SideNotes Cabaret

Archive for SideNotes Cabaret

SideNotes Cabaret Series Features “Milwaukee’s Manhattan Transfer”

Stylish arrangements and intricate harmonies will fill the air as BOYGIRLBOYGIRL presents an evening of musical entertainment March 22-25, 2018 in the SideNotes Cabaret. SideNotes is continuing its tenth season in the intimate Studio Theatre of Elm Grove’s Sunset Playhouse.

Featuring DON LOBACZ, TOMMY LUECK, LAURA MONAGLE, and MICHAELA RISTAINO, BGBG has been crowned “Milwaukee’s Manhattan Transfer.” LOBACZ and LUECK are well known to Midwest audiences thanks to their many appearances with Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets and other local theatre companies.  MONAGLE appears regularly with Boulevard Theatre, The Fireside Theatre, Off the Wall, and Children’s Theatre of Madison.  RISTAINO has appeared in Milwaukee with Skylight Music Theatre and currently performs with Choral Artists of Sarasota in her hometown on Florida’s Suncoast.

The talented quartet will be backed by two exceptional musicians, Mark Mrozek and Tim Karth.  Mrozek serves as resident music director for Sunset Playhouse and is Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Bruno’s. In addition to his work with Hal Leonard Music Publishing, Karth performs with several local vocal groups and theatre companies.

Performances of BOYGIRLBOYGIRL are Thursday through Saturday, March 22-24 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m.






Broadway veterans SUSAN AND ANDREW VARELA will be featured in a cabaret titled PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE: THE ROMANCE OF RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN, February 15-18, 2018 at the Sunset Playhouse SideNotes Cabaret in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.  Timeless classics from OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL,  SOUTH PACIFIC, and other works by Rodgers & Hammerstein will be presented by these charismatic and gifted performers.  The Varelas relocated to Wisconsin after two decades of successful appearances on Broadway and in touring companies.


Most recently, ANDREW VARELA was seen as Daddy Warbucks in ANNIE at Skylight Music Theatre. Other Skylight performances include the title character in SWEENEY TODD and Inspector Javert in LES MISÉRABLES.  He also has been featured with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and First Stage Children’s Theatre.  In April he will appear with In Tandem Theatre as El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS.  SUSAN VARELA, a Milwaukee native, made her debut on Broadway as Fantine in LES MISÉRABLES and has performed locally with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, and Skylight Music Theatre (SWEENEY TODD, THE WIZARD OF OZ, INTO THE WOODS).


The talented duo will be backed by an exceptional three-piece combo led by Music Director RYAN CAPPLEMAN. Ryan performs and choreographs locally and is a frequent collaborator with Skylight Music Theatre, First Stage Children’s Theatre, and Danceworks. Bassist STEVE RINDT works with Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra as a conductor and coach and performs regularly with the Wisconsin Philharmonic and Festival City Symphony. Drummer JIM RYAN has been playing regionally for decades, appears with several local groups, and also maintains a private drum instruction studio.


Performances of PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE are Thursday, February 15 through Saturday February 17 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, February 18 at 3:00 p.m.




Virtually everyone can conjure up the voice of Julie Andrews. Whether she’s singing “Do-Re-Mi” from “The Sound of Music” or “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly” from “My Fair Lady,” Andrews’ pure, pitch-perfect British-accented voice is memorable.

In the show, “Our Favorite Things,” presented recently at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove, Taryn Whipple sang some of Andrews’ beloved tunes with a superb voice that easily glided through the yodeling in “Lonely Goatherd,” soared in “The Rain in Spain” and trilled gently in the finale of “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood.” 

Joining Whipple for most of the vocals was Don Lobacz, who introduced himself at the opening by saying, “Hi, I’m Don and I sing all the boy parts.”

Accompanied by a solid, three-piece orchestra consisting of Kerry Hart Bieneman on piano and vocals, Steven Rindt on double bass and Jim Ryan on drums, the duo provided 90 minutes of music, jam-packed with more than 30 tunes made famous by Andrews and/or her musicals.

The pair opened the show by introducing themselves during “You and Me” from “Victor, Victoria.” Each subsequent segment, containing several songs from one of Andrews’ notable musicals, was introduced by the pair with some tidbits about the show or the iconic star herself, such as her start as a singer at age 4 and early days in vaudeville.

Andrews was already a stage veteran in London when she came to America to star in her first Broadway musical, “The Boyfriend,” in 1954. The show opened on the eve of her 19th birthday.

Meet ‘The Boyfriend’

Whipple and Lobacz were charming in the numbers they did from “The Boyfriend,” really meshing well with the orchestra on the Flapper Era music, which included a bit of the Charleston dance.

The rest of Act 1 was devoted mostly to two Lerner-Lowe classics, “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.” 

 “My Fair Lady” has produced some of the most memorable tunes of all time and the pair performed them wonderfully, starting with Whipple’s taking on a Cockney accent for “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.”

Lobacz has a pleasant voice that accented Whipple’s nicely. His vocals were not as strong as Whipple’s, but worked nicely on tunes such as “On the Street Where You Live” and his energetic “I’m Getting Married in the Morning.”

Whipple stretched easily to hit all the high notes in “The Rain in Spain,” as well as “I Could’ve Danced All Night,” an audience favorite.

In the “Camelot” sequence, the arrangements seemed a little thin, but there were several highlights, including Whipple’s effortless trill at the end of “Simple Joys of Maidenhood” and Don and Taryn’s gorgeous rendition of “If Ever I Would Leave You.” Whipple added some cute, bird-like whistling to “What Do the Simple Folks Do?”

Practically perfect

Act 2 featured music from Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” closing with tunes from “The Sound of Music.” In the intro to the “Poppins” segment, it was indicated that Andrews thanked Jack Warner for not casting her in the film version of “My Fair Lady” (Audrey Hepburn played the role), which allowed her to take the “Mary Poppins” role for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for 1964.

The audience joined in for “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” as well as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which they really enjoyed. In the lovely lullaby “Feed the Birds,” Bieneman added a layer of harmony to the duo that gave the tune a rich sound. Bieneman’s vocals were a welcome addition to several numbers, giving them more fullness and depth. She also did well on a couple solo pieces.

Ending the show with tunes from “The Sound of Music,” Andrews’ best-known musical, was a no-brainer. Lobacz indicated that the show had the highest grossing box office sales of all time, adding that Andrews many of the characteristics of Mary Poppins–she was “practically perfect in every way.”

Starting with “Do-Re-Mi” and some audience participation, Whipple moved into “The Sound of Music” with added subtle harmony from Bieneman and Lobacz.

Lovely to look at

In “The Lonely Goatherd,” Whipple slid through the roller coaster of yodeling as easily as a sled down an icy hill. Lobacz added guitar on the acoustic “Edelweiss,” while Whipple showed off her skill on the violin.

Whipple sounded most like Andrews in “My Favorite Things” and ended the show with “Climb Every Mountain.” Though the latter was not sung by Andrews in the film, it was a perfect finale to the show.

Whipple looked gorgeous in her black velvet and satin gown with glittering jewelry to open the show. Lobacz joined her in a handsome light gray suit with a lavender shirt. While a good-looking outfit, it looked pale next to Whipple’s. The bow-tie tux in Act Two was a much better look paired with Whipple’s lacy black gown.

The show moved at a quick, lively pace, with nary a bobble to be seen or heard, professional in every way. Though the pair were musically comfortable, it would have been good to see the duo loosen up a bit and be a little more spontaneous with each other and the audience. A bit more comedy, perhaps in the introductions to the segments, would have been welcome also.

Sunset’s cabaret space is a wonderful venue with an updated sound system that showcased the music while not overwhelming the audience.


YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND opens the SideNotes Cabaret Series


SideNotes Cabaret opens its season with YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND, a tribute to Carole King and James Taylor, October 5-8, 2017. Audiences will enjoy an assortment of compositions by two renowned singer-songwriters of the Baby Boom era in Sunset’s intimate Studio Theatre.  

The cabaret features the combined talents of three outstanding performers well known to audiences in southeastern Wisconsin. KERRY HART BIENEMAN (Music Director, piano, vocals) received a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and served as a voice professor at Carthage College and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  For the past several years she has been Music Director for Sunset’s popular Musical MainStage Concert Series. CASEY OLSON (guitar, vocals) received his Bachelor of Fine Art in Finger-Style Guitar from UWM’s Peck School of the Arts.  In addition to his solo performances, Olson appears regularly with ACOUSTICATS, a duo specializing in music of the 60s and 70s. MELISSA KELLY CARDAMONE (piano, vocals) has vocal performance degrees from The Eastman School of Music and Lawrence University.  She has performed with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and will make her debut with Skylight Music Theatre in 2018.

Sunset’s SideNotes Cabaret Series is proud to provide one of the few cabaret venues in southeastern Wisconsin.  Now in its tenth year, SideNotes continues to offer a unique assortment of musical entertainment presented by talented professionals in a relaxed, comfortable setting.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, October 5-7 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday,

October 8 at 3:00 p.m.

To reserve tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit  


Doug-Clemons-Sunset-PlayhouseClassic ballads, timeless showstoppers, and signature songs by legendary belters will be featured at the SideNotes Cabaret as DOUG CLEMONS and ANNE VAN DEUSEN present BELTERS, BALLADEERS, AND BROADWAY, June 15-18, 2017.

Clemons and Van Deusen have assembled a splendid collection of tunes from classic composers such as Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Lerner & Loewe. Audiences also will enjoy selections from contemporary musicals including Les Miserables, Beauty And The Beast, and Phantom Of The Opera.

The SideNotes Cabaret is presented in the intimate Studio Theatre of Sunset Playhouse.

DOUG CLEMONS is a regular at Sunset’s Musical MainStage Concert Series and a favorite of audiences throughout Wisconsin, having appeared with Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, and First Stage Children’s Theater. His concert credits include soloist for The Utah Light Opera, Florentine Opera, Racine Symphony Orchestra, and The Door County Opera Festival.

ANNE VAN DEUSEN is active as a pianist, accompanist, and music director in and around the greater Milwaukee area. In addition to her duties as vocal coach at St. Thomas of Canterbury in Greendale, she has worked with Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, In Tandem, Off The Wall, and many other local theatre groups.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, June 15-18 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 19 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,
ext. 291.




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