At last year’s It’s a Christmas Cabaret 2, the running joke through the 12 acts was that Holly Harrington, a script writer and veteran actress in the theater scene, would try and sing a Christmas carol in each scene and get the door slammed in her face every time. In the final act, DC Rapier, who played the half drunken, grouchy Santa Claus role, was supposed to let her in and do her thing. With live theater, though, some things don’t go as planned and again, the door was slammed in Harrington’s face and she never got her moment to shine.
“It’s forgivable because it’s for charity,” Harrington said with a smile.
It is, after all, the season for giving. For the past two years, the Taipei Players have put on a Christmas cabaret show where all the proceeds go to charity. Usually, the funds go to local animal rescue shelters or orphanages, but this year, the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan was too close to home to ignore.
“The town we are donating to this year is called Estancia on Panay Island where 90 percent of the homes were destroyed,” said Mandy Roveda, one of the founders of Taipei Players.
“We are accepting donations at the door of soap, toothbrushes, toys and kitchen stuff, and we will give that to our contact, Jay Billones, who then sends it to her family there to distribute.”
Brandon Thompson is a man of many hats because he is the lead singer in a few bands around Taipei and one of the hardest working actors in the expat theater scene. Instead of just a play, where he’s around other actors, the cabaret brings together the best of both of his worlds.
“With music, it’s a job,” Thompson said. “With acting, it’s a passion and we want to share that Christmas feeling with everyone.”
Katie Partlow, an actress with a bachelor’s degree in acting from Washington State University and a masters in theater, agrees with Thompson wholeheartedly.
“Last year, my main scene was with Moshe Foster,” Partlow said. “He’s a musician and I’m in theater. Cabaret is really good because it brings in people that don’t normally work together and we develop a trust that goes on between stage performers.”
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
At this year’s It’s a Green (Door) Christmas, the Taipei Players encourage attendees to wear their festive clothes and participate in Christmas karaoke sing-a-longs during intermission. The theme of the show is a peek into what happens behind closed doors on Christmas Eve in Taiwan. Because of the limited time to practice together, there is only one run through on the day of the show where everyone sees what everyone else has done.
Roveda revels in the feeling of spontaneity that the cabaret brings. “Everyone is responsible for their own show.”
Thompson chimes in: “We have no idea what the final product is going to be. It’s just like a Christmas gift.”