SideNotes Cabaret – Page 2

Archive for SideNotes Cabaret – Page 2




Award-winning vocalists ELLEN WINTERS and JOHNNY RODGERS pay tribute to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torm in ELLA MEETS MEL, May 18-21, 2017 in the SideNotes Cabaret at Sunset Playhouse. Along with a trio of outstanding musicians, Winters and Rodgers interpret the distinctive styles of two indisputable superstars of the jazz genre.  Fresh from sold-out appearances in Chicago, reviewers have described their performances individually and collectively as heartfelt, freewheeling, and filled with high-flying vocal pyrotechnics.


ELLEN WINTERS is a past winner and 2017 nominee for the Jazz Artist category of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards.  A student of trad-jazz, Ellen has studied with Phil Mattson, Steve Zegree,  Ron McCurdy and others. In addition to many local performances, she has been featured at Danny’s Skylight Cabaret and Rose’s Turn in New York City, The Jazz Showcase and The Abbey in Chicago, and The Dakota in Minneapolis. A native of Florida, JOHNNY RODGERS attended Florida State’s prestigious Musical Theatre program before graduating from Western Michigan University.  He toured with Liza Minnelli as a featured singer, dancer, pianist, and songwriter in the Tony Award-winning Liza’s at The Palace, which played on Broadway in 2009-10.  Johnny also serves as Ambassador of American Music on behalf of the U.S. State Department, and has visited Russia, Malaysia, North Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia.


Winters and Rodgers will be backed by an exceptional three-piece band, The SideMen. The trio features three-time WAMI winner SAM STEFFKE on keyboards. Bassist HAL MILLER has performed with many jazz notables and is Associate Music Professor at MATC. Drummer JIM RYAN has been playing regionally for decades, appears with several local groups, and also maintains a private drum instruction studio.


Performances are Thursday through Saturday, May 18-20 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 21 at 3:00 p.m.


Sunset Playhouse is proud to be celebrating its 57th season, and now offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series.  To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit  For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.



Syncopated rhythms, unique chord progressions and jazz harmonies will be front and center as SideNotes Cabaret presents WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW: A TRIBUTE TO BURT BACHARACH, March 30 to April 2, 2017 at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. Highlighting a career that spans more than fifty years, vocalist CYNTHIA COBB and pianist/vocalist BRIAN MYERS will star in this exciting retrospective of Bacharach’s compositions.


As part of the professional SideNotes Cabaret Series, Cobb and Myers will be joined by drummer Jim Ryan to present four performances in the intimate, relaxed atmosphere of Sunset’s Studio Theater. Bacharach, a six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, composed dozens of popular hit songs, many with lyricist Hal David. Known for their collaborations with Dionne Warwick, the Bacharach/David team also scored numerous successes with Perry Como, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Carpenters and other artists. The cabaret is written and directed by BECKY SPICE.


CYNTHIA COBB is well known to audiences in and around the Midwest. In addition to her many appearances with Skylight Theatre, she has performed at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Drury Lane Theatre, Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire and Gateway Playhouse. BRIAN MYERS is a versatile pianist and singer with performance credits in musical theatre, opera, drama and choral music. He works regularly as a music director and has collaborated with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre and Soulstice Theatre. JIM RYAN appears regularly at Sunset Playhouse and performs locally with several big bands, small combos and theatre companies.

Cynthia-Cobb    Brian-Myers

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, March 30th to April 1st at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 2nd at 3:00 p.m.


To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.


Swing-Into-Spring-Sunset-PlayhouseTreat yourself and a special someone to a celebration of hearts and flowers as PETE SORCE and THE SWING EXPLOSION SEXTET present IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SWING, a cabaret filled with memorable vocal and instrumental standards in the styles of the Rat Pack and big bands, at Elm Grove’s Sunset Playhouse, February 16-19, 2017.

As part of the professional SideNotes Cabaret Series, Pete and the group will present four performances in the intimate and relaxed atmosphere of Sunset’s Studio Theatre. The evening’s entertainment will offer timeless songs performed by a prestigious group of exceptional musicians.

PETE SORCE has performed with a Who’s Who of legendary entertainers including Les Brown, Nelson Riddle, Mel Torm, and Duke Ellington. He attended Lincoln High School where he sang with his friend, Al Jarreau, and also worked with popular rock groups Big Apple and Toll Free. THE SWING EXPLOSION SEXTET includes Jeff LaBarge (leader/arranger and saxophone), John Rose (trumpet), Dave Smith (trombone), Chris Klinkhardt (keyboard), John Babbit/Jeff Hoormann (bass), and Jim Ryan (drums).

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, February 16-18 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 19 at 3:00 p.m.

Click here to buy tickets.

CHRISTMAS PAGEANT & HOLIDAY BELLES to perform 12/16 -18 – The show must go on!

Yes, both THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT and HOLIDAY BELLES will be performed tonight, Saturday and Sunday. The Show must go on!


Saturday, 12/17 – CHRISTMAS PAGEANT at 3PM & 7:30 & HOLIDAY BELLES at 8PM

Sunday 12/18 (PAGEANT at 2PM and BELLES at 3PM)

SideNotes Cabaret Rings in the Season with the HOLIDAY BELLES

Sunset Playhouse continues its ninth season of its popular SideNotes Cabaret Series with a sleigh full of jazzy harmonies and delicious melodies in a production titled HOLIDAY BELLES, December 14-18, 2016.


Area favorites LAURA MONAGLE, PEGGY PETERSON RYAN, and BECKY SPICE combine their talents to create a sparkling vocal confection of swing, jazz, and boogie-woogie.  Together with a trio of outstanding backup musicians, Laura, Peggy, and Becky pay tribute to classic standards popularized by groups like the Andrews Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, and other legends of the swing era. Also included will be a hearty helping of seasonal music to promote the festive holiday spirit.


All three vocalists have extensive performing experience in and around the Midwest and bring a wealth of talent and professionalism to the production.  LAURA MONAGLE has been seen locally with Boulevard Theatre, Windfall, Off the Wall, and Optimist Theatre.  PEGGY PETERSON RYAN is known to audiences for her work with Skylight Theatre and First Stage Children’s Theatre.  BECKY SPICE has appeared with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Skylight Theatre, and Madison Rep. The performers will be accompanied by Mark Mrozak on piano, Tom Burgermeister on bass, and Jim Ryan on drums.


Performances are Wednesday, December 14 at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, December 16 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, December 17 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 18 at 3:00 p.m.

1641d1003c9d84bfc1c18910b9c51f25     peggy-peterson   becky6






silverscreen-298x413Sunset Playhouse opens the ninth season of its popular SideNotes Cabaret Series with a salute to famous cinematic melodies in SONGS OF THE SILVER SCREEN, October 6-9, 2016. Filled with unforgettable music, these glittering tunes and sparkling lyrics prove that they are movie stars in their own right.


The cabaret combines the impressive talents of three of the area’s favorite performers: ALISON MARY FORBES, CHRIS KRASOVICH, and DON LOBACZ. Musical direction, accompaniment, and additional vocals will be provided by GREG SMRZ. The cabaret is written and directed by BECKY SPICE.


Alison Mary Forbes is familiar to local audiences, having appeared with Skylight Music Theatre, Optimist Theatre, and Milwaukee Shakespeare. Chris Krasovich has performed with In Tandem, Skylight Music Theatre, and M&W Productions. Don Lobacz is recognized as one of the members of Four Guyz In Dinner Jackets and as lead singer with BtW classic rock band. Making his debut with Sunset Playhouse, Greg Smrz works as a cantor for St. Sebastian’s and is a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus. Becky Spice is acclaimed by audiences throughout the state as an exceptional entertainer, and now adds writing and directing to her credits.


These talented performers will present songs that made their first appearances in the movies and are now standards that have lasted for decades — Singin’ in the Rain, Moon River, Over the Rainbow, As Time Goes By, The Way We Were, When You Wish Upon A Star, and many others. The show also features excerpts from the great cinematic scores of John Williams and Henry Mancini. From THE JAZZ SINGER to GHOSTBUSTERS, this cabaret celebrates nearly 100 years of musical movie magic.


Performances are Thursday, October 6 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, October 7 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, October 9 at 3:00 p.m.


Sunset Playhouse is proud to be celebrating its 57th season, and now offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series, and many special events. To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.

2016-17 Sunset Playhouse Single Tickets On Sale July 5th!

Single tickets for our 2016-17 Season will go on sale to the public on July 5th. We have a great line-up so be sure to order your tickets online or stop at the box office starting July 5th for the best seating selection.


2016-17 Season of Sunset Playhouse Milwaukee

In addition to our Furlan shows, we will offer 6 Musical MainStage Concerts and 6 SideNotes Cabarets that are not-to-be-missed.

Season 2016 Sunset Playhouse Milwaukee

Our box office hours are: Tuesday 1 – 7PM, Weds – Friday 1 – 5PM and Saturday 1 – 4PM. Be sure to stop in as soon as you can to get the best seats. You can also call our box office at 262-782-4430 or buy all of your tickets on

SideNotes Cabaret 2016-17 Season Announced


Sunset Playhouse will present six original productions as part of its 2016-17 SideNotes Cabaret Series. SideNotes offers a unique assortment of musical entertainment presented by talented professionals in the comfortable atmosphere of Sunset’s Studio Theatre, a relaxed and intimate setting complete with a full-service bar.


SideNotes-2016-2017-SeasonThe SideNotes season begins in October with SONGS OF THE SILVER SCREEN, a look back at the glittering melodies and sparkling lyrics that have become memorable movie stars in their own right. In December, HOLIDAY BELLES celebrates the season with a sleigh full of jazzy harmonies, melodies of the big band era, and a hearty helping of jolly favorites.


IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SWING features Pete Sorce and Swing Explosion as they present a nostalgic musical Valentine from the Great American Songbook. The songs of Burt Bacharach will be showcased in March with WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW, a retrospective of the unique style and syncopated rhythms of the composer’s many acclaimed hits.


In May, vocalists Ellen Winters and Johnny Rodgers perform dramatic ballads, blazing scat, and complex vocal duets in their award-winning cabaret ELLA MEETS MEL, a tribute to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torm. The SideNotes series concludes in June with BELTERS, BALLADEERS, AND BROADWAY, a cavalcade of classic ballads, famous belters, and show-stopping music from the Golden Age of Broadway.


SONGS OF THE SILVER SCREEN – October 6-9, 2016

HOLIDAY BELLES – December 14-18, 2016

IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SWING – February 16-19, 2017

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW – March 30-April 2, 2017

ELLA MEETS MEL – May 18-21, 2017



Season tickets for the 2016-17 season at Sunset Playhouse are now on sale, both Full Package and Pick & Choose Flexible Package. Individual tickets will go on sale July 5, 2016.

What’s Happening At Sunset


Well, spring has sprung and we can finally venture outside so why not get out of the house and head over to Sunset for one of our upcoming productions? April will be a very busy month at the Playhouse. Next week (April 7-9), our SideNotes Cabaret will present HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS, an evening of Broadway show tunes. Then you won’t want to miss the Sunset premiere of THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE*, April 21st through May 8th. This hilarious yet touching musical tells the story of six students who vie for the championship of a lifetime. Our final Musical MainStage concert of the season, RING-A-DING-DING: SINATRA & CO. (April 25-26), will swing to the sounds of the big band era with hits from folks like Frank, Ella, Bing, and Rosie.



We hope you were able to attend our sold-out 2016-17 Season Preview Party! This wonderful celebration showcased Sunset’s upcoming season, with scenes and songs from our Furlan Auditorium Productions, SideNotes Cabaret Series, and our Musical MainStage Concert Series.season-preview-party

If you are a season subscriber, you should have received your season ticket packet. If you would like to subscribe, please contact the box office and we will be happy to mail you subscription information. We offer both full-season packages and our popular Pick & Choose option which allows you to purchase four or more vouchers good for any show at any time and save money!


Finally, under the direction of Project Manager Jan Pritzl, work is underway on the creation of our new lower-level classroom/rehearsal hall. Thanks to a grant from Heart of Canal, we are excited to create this wonderful and much-needed addition for all our students and volunteers.



*Suggested for mature audiences only

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS – SideNotes Cabaret, April 7 – 9, 2016

highlights-foot-lights-sidenotes-cabaret-sunset-playhouseBROADWAY HIGHLIGHTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT AT SIDENOTES CABARET

A trio of powerhouse performers will present HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS as part of the Sunset Playhouse SideNotes Cabaret Series April 7-9, 2016. Local favorites ADAM ESTES, SAMANTHA SOSTARICH, and NATHAN WESSELOWSKI will salute the best of Broadway in this homage to the timeless songs of the Great White Way. These stellar vocalists will perform music from the Golden Age of Broadway, current smash hits, and everything in between.

ADAM ESTES has appeared at Sunset Playhouse many times, as part of the Musical MainStage Concert Series and in his one-man SideNotes Cabaret. He has been seen at the Goodman Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Marriott Lincolnshire and with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, In Tandem Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, and Milwaukee Opera Theatre. SAMANTHA SOSTARICH created the role of Fortuna in FORTUNA THE TIME BENDER VS. THE SCHOOLGIRLS OF DOOM for Milwaukee Opera Theatre and has worked locally with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, In Tandem Theatre, Optimist Theatre, and First Stage Children’s Theatre. Most recently NATHAN WESSELOWSKI delighted audiences in the musical he composed for In Tandem Theatre, A TWISTED CAROL. He also has appeared with The Alchemist Theatre and Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and will perform with Skylight Music Theatre later this season.

Musical selections will be included from Broadway hits such as ANYTHING GOES, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH PACIFIC, INTO THE WOODS, FOLLIES, THE FULL MONTY, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and SPAMALOT, among others. Songs will be presented in a combination of solos, duets, and trios.

Performances are Thursday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, April 8 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, April 9 at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.

MRS. FUN To Appear at Sunset!








February 18-20, 2016

MRS. FUN, a multi-talented duo comprised of keyboardist/vocalist CONNIE GRAUER and percussionist KIM ZICK, will present four performances for the SideNotes Cabaret Series at Sunset Playhouse, February 18-20, 2016. Combining a unique blend of jazz, funk, and spoken word, this acclaimed duo creates a sophisticated, complex, and adventurous style of music that has pleased audiences and reviewers alike.

Although Grauer and Zick are natives of Waukesha, Wisconsin (hometown of the legendary Les Paul) and attended the same high school, they had only a passing acquaintance until years later when Zick was putting together a band and needed a keyboard player. She got in touch with Grauer and the duo has been gathering awards ever since. MRS. FUN has been consistently praised for flawless musicianship and dynamic stage presence.

After relocating to Nashville, Grauer and Zick attracted the attention of many music industry leaders. During their time there, MRS. FUN performed and recorded with k.d. lang, Indigo Girls, and Janis Ian, among others. They also created several albums of their own, collaborating with renowned producers such as Jim Rooney and Victor DeLorenzo.

MRS. FUN continued to receive accolades, rave reviews, and awards after their return to Milwaukee. Voted ‘Best Contemporary Jazz Group’ by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) for three consecutive years, Grauer and Zick also have received WAMI awards for Best Instrumentalists on keyboard and drums. Grauer also has been awarded WAMI’s Best Female Vocalist and Best Stage Entertainer.

A busy touring schedule includes festivals and concert halls throughout the United States and Canada. MRS. FUN has shared the stage with Billy Cobham, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Arlo Guthrie, Violent Femmes, and many other notables. In addition, they are annual headliners at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and have appeared on Wisconsin Public Television and for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Performances are Thursday, February 18 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, February 19 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, February 20 at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove, WI.

To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit Use code FUN and receive $5 off our adult priced tickets.

Chris Mariani in HAVE A COOL YULE


Chris_Mariani Popular vocalist CHRIS MARIANI returns to the SideNotes Cabaret Series at Sunset Playhouse December 16-19, 2015 in HAVE A COOL YULE. Backed by a sextet of exceptional musicians, Mariani will present a blend of ’40s romance, ’50s swing, and holiday favorites in a program of stylish standards.

Inspired by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin and other renowned crooners, Mariani has been compared to contemporary performers like Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. Winner of the 1994 WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Male Vocalist of the Year award, he first gained recognition as a rock and roll singer but returned to the music from the Great American Songbook he’d heard as a child growing up in Milwaukee.

Described as a performer with a ‘suave and cool demeanor,’ Mariani and his band continue to carry the torch for a timeless musical genre, taking hits from the past and presenting them with a modern style that hearkens back to the soundtrack of the lounge era. His entertaining shows have been called ‘a satisfying mixture that goes down slow and easy and leaves you wanting more.’

Mariani’s backup ensemble is comprised of Sam Steffke (piano), John Babbitt (bass), Jim Ryan (drums), John Rose (trumpet), Paul Brozowski (trombone), and music director/arranger Jeff LaBarge (saxophone).

Performances are Wednesday, December 16 at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, December 17 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, December 18 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, December 19 at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Sunset Playhouse is proud to be celebrating its 56th season, and now offers eight productions in the Furlan Auditorium, six Musical MainStage concerts, and three shows in the bug in a rug Children’s Theater series. To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit For group sales, contact Stephanie at 262-782-4431, ex. 291.


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