Steamboat Cabaret celebrates its 40th anniversary

A poster for the Steamboat Creates Cabaret fundraiser, celebrating 40 years of Cabaret and the 50th anniversary of Steamboat Creates, June 2, 2022.
Steamboat creates/courtesy image

A tradition that dates back to the early 1980s will continue next week. Presented by Steamboat Creates, local artists will kick off their annual cabaret performance and fundraiser on Wednesday, June 8 and run through June 11 at the Depot Art Center.

Steamboat Creates, officially known as the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, dates back to 1972 and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, while its popular Cabaret fundraiser celebrates its 40th anniversary.

“Cabaret is one of Steamboat Creates’ biggest fundraisers and has a wonderful legacy,” said Kim Keith, Executive Director of Steamboat Creates.

The show will include skits and songs that will poke fun at Steamboat Springs and all of its idiosyncrasies. Audiences can expect jokes on localized topics such as pickleball, poodles, physical therapy and the Yampa Valley Electric Association, according to Paula Salky, one of the two co-directors of this year’s show.

“It’s just going to be a wonderful mix of everything in our valley,” Salky said.

Salky says it’s a large group compared to previous years, around 40 people, mixing cabaret veterans with eight newcomers.

Back row left to right: Roy Powell, Ann Marie Huddleston, Tom Keenan, Gabriel Rogers, Angie Gamble, Katie WestFront row left to right: Alexa Taylor, Marje Tracey, Helen Beall, Barb Fix, Janie Christenson — June 2, 2022.
Paula Salky/Courtesy Photo

Expect to hear popular songs rewritten with Yampa Valley-specific lyrics, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic-style, and expect to see short skits that were written from scratch by the performers themselves themselves.

“They don’t do anything like that in Vail,” said Kris Hammond, who has been performing in Cabaret since 1992. “For a very amateur show, Cabaret is really good.”

Hammond says the early cabaret shows were traditional talent shows, but over time they’ve become a showcase for original content that tackles the local community. For many years, Hammond played the role of an original character called “The Postman”, who reads various lost letters from across the community to the audience. He will reprise that role again on next week’s show.

According to Brad Kindred, who has been involved with Steamboat Creates since 1985, the annual cabaret show started organically, mostly by local teachers. He says he saw 12 kids who went through Steamboat Creates or the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp who grew up to pursue careers in the performing arts.

Still, Kindred says he would like to see the city have a dedicated performing arts center. The Chief Theatre, which has long hosted Cabaret, closed during the pandemic and was due to reopen early this year after renovations, but that schedule has been pushed back indefinitely.

The Depot Art Center was the location of the first cabaret 40 years ago, and since then the venue has changed a lot. Last year it was at Howelsen Hill, and the year before that it was on the Internet.

Rehearsals began June 1, and the cast won’t be able to practice at the Depot Art Center until Sunday, June 5. According to Hammond, their first rehearsal was as chaotic as one would expect for a first practice.

“It’s hard to believe there will actually be a show in a week after watching the first rehearsal last night,” Hammond said. “But it’s the same every year. It never changes.

Shows start at 6:30 p.m. from Wednesday June 8 to Saturday June 11. For general admission, doors open at 6:00 p.m. For VIPs and sponsors, doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available on steamboatcreates. org/opportunities/cabaret/ and are $40 for general admission and $75 for VIP admission and include hors d’oeuvres and a drink.

Ticket sales go to support Steamboat Creates, which supports community art and artists.

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