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In Time for Valentine's Day, a Cabaret About Love

Here’s what I’ve been missing for years – honest-to-goodness cabaret.

So fans of good singers and great songs in an easy atmosphere of tables for two with a drink or two – mark Feb. 9 as the day cabaret returns to the region with LOVE IS LOVE: A Cabaret of Broadway Songs About Love, a co-presentation by Cincinnati Music Theatre (CMT) and the Cincinnati Arts Association (CAA).

LOVE IS LOVE will continue weekends through Feb. 19 in the Aronoff’s intimate Fifth Third Bank Theater. Cast members are well known to musical fans around town: Brian Anderson, Luka Ashley Carter, Bree Hunter Cox, Pamela Kay Day, Mary Puetz, Katelyn Reid, and Wayne Wright.

The witty and touching revue is created by the talented team of musical director Michael Spresser and veteran director Skip Fenker. Spresser has written new arrangements and will be at the piano leading the four-piece band. Karen Galliers is producer.

Fenker has been a respected name on the Greater Cincinnati musical theater scene for more than 30 years. He’s had a long interest in presenting small acts in an intimate setting and the interest has never died, in part because the idea “seemed to be something that would work well in a downtown setting and wasn't really being done.”

CMT was looking for a way to expand its season (the plan is for a three-show cabaret season), CAA liked the fresh idea. Fenker says he’s “really excited about this opportunity. It's been a great chance to create a show, basically, from scratch. 

“He’s delighted to give “performers to a chance to perform some great material from shows that they probably won't ever get to do and the audience the chance to hear songs they might otherwise have never gotten to hear.”

He’s especially excited for artists and audience to establish a close bind in the intimate setting. “That rapport is such a gift.”

When the dates were chosen, CAA’s chief operating officer Todd Duesing asked for a “love” theme. 

“Michael and I decided we wanted to do songs about love.” They brainstormed, made a too-long list, Galliers pared it back, Fenker “re-ordered it until a sort of logical emotional through line developed.”

There were some tweaks and “after we cast the show, I made a couple changes to it to better showcase our company.”

“Seasons of Love” (Rent), “Love Changes Everything” (Aspects of Love), and “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun” (Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) are just a few of the songs that will illustrate the many kinds of love -- love of family, looking for love, finding it and celebrating it. 

“And, of course, we have to have a segment about falling out of love.” Fenker says. The final segment “looks back and reflects on how love has changed and enriched people's lives.”

LOVE IS LOVE: A Cabaret of Broadway Songs About Love, Feb. 9-17. Fifth Third Bank Theater, Aronoff Center for the Arts, Main and Seventh Streets, Downtown Cincinnati. Tickets $25 (plus fees), includes a cheese/fruit plate and one beverage compliments of CAA. (513) 621-ARTS [2787], CincinnatiArts.orgCincinnatimusictheatre.org, (513) 621-ARTS [2787], and the Aronoff Center Ticket Office at 650 Walnut St., Downtown Cincinnati. 

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts