Women are taking over the stage this summer at The Trust Performing Arts Center.
Portrait of a Lady, a music series that kicks off at 7 p.m. Sunday, will feature 10 weeks of cabaret performances, highlighting the works of some of the most well-known divas of music: Billie Holiday, Adele, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.
“I was inspired by the strong women that surrounded me in my life,” says Reji Woods, the person behind the cabaret series. “Oftentimes, women are underappreciated in our society, so I wanted to find a way to artistically celebrate women.”
Woods will open each show with a song and an introduction, before letting the women take over. Each concert will feature four local performers who will turn the spotlight on one singer. The same diva will be featured in cabarets on two different dates.
Each of the cabarets also will feature a three-piece band, under the direction of Mike Truitt, backing the performers.
“Each woman will sing two or three solos, and everyone will perform in the finale number” each night, Woods says. “There may be a couple of duets in the mix. The format of each of the cabarets will be a little bit different.”
Woods chose the performers based on women he’s either shared the stage with or directed in a show or concert.
“These women are phenomenal,” he says. “Lancaster has such a huge network of amazing, high-caliber performers, and I’m just blessed to know many of them.”
Among the performers is Lindsey Aeriel Grimble, who will be performing the music of Whitney Houston.
“Whitney was so inspiring to so many people,” she says. “Her music speaks to so many people, and that’s what I really love about her. It’s an honor to sing her music.”
Excited to participate
She says she was excited to participate in the cabaret as soon as Woods asked her about it.
“Reji’s going to make the show amazing,” she says. “Everybody knows these songs and these artists, so it’s going to be really neat to hear the music performed and have a fun evening.”
For Monica Depaul, who will be performing the music of Celine Dion, getting the chance to sing in the cabaret is exciting.
“I love her music, and I love that the cabaret celebrates females in the arts,” she says. “They’ve all made an impact on the recording industry. Their music is stellar and their vocal stylings are all very individualistic. Plus, they’ve all had lasting power.”
Melissa Rivera will perform the music of both Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston in the series. She says their music, in particular, has made a major impact on her life.
“When I was younger, I didn’t speak much English, but it helped me out to sing,” she says. “At the time, the ballads of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston were big hits, and learning them helped me learn English. I would sing them at talent shows, in school, at church all the time.”
She adds that none of the cabaret performers will be impersonating the divas, but will instead be interpreting their music.
“This will be a fresh new take to these songs and celebrating what these women have done,” she says. “It will be empowering for women.”
The schedule for the Portrait of a Lady cabaret series is:
— Billie Holiday (June 14): Performed by Tricia Bridgeman, Jaclyn Harnish, Lauren Wise and Amy Banks.
— Billie Holiday (June 21): Performed by Kyleen Shaw, Jackyn Harnish, Brittany Adkins and Amy Banks.
— Adele (July 12 and 19): Performed by Jaclyn Harnish, Erin McCullough, Kristina Gehman and Joelle Teeter.
— Mariah Carey (July 26 and Aug. 2): Performed by Lauren Wise, Melissa Rivera, Sarah Fieger and Lindsey Aeriel Grimble.
— Celine Dion (Aug. 9 and Aug. 16): Performed by Brittany Adkins, Monica Depaul, Corina Raine Connelly and Nicole Horton.
— Whitney Houston (Aug. 23 and 30): Performed by Lauren Wise, Melissa Rivera, Nicole Horton, Lindsey Aeriel Grimble and Nattalyee Randall.
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