"A Christmas Cabaret" Brings Local Humor, Festive Spirit for Holidays

"A Christmas Cabaret" Brings Local Humor, Festive Spirit for Holidays

By Stefanie Pohl. CREATED Dec 14, 2012

Looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit?

A Christmas Cabaret, from award-winning director and Michigan native Greg Ganakas (Izzo Goes to Broadway), celebrates the season with Christmas standards and other genres such as jazz, pop, Broadway, and cabaret show tunes.

Director Greg Ganakas describes the show as "a Celebration of Christmas - a Michigan Christmas." Ganakas has lived in New York for almost 30 years, but comes back to the Mitten State each year for the holidays.

Created by Ganakas with musical direction and arrangements by Jersey Boys conductor Keith Thompson, A Christmas Cabaret will be bringing in plenty of Broadway talent for a show that had many nods to local humor and in-jokes.

"I choose people that either have some warmth or vulnerability of how they perform, so the word 'cabaret' comes up that way."

Expect to see local personalities such as Lupe Izzo, Andy Provenzano, and even Sparty himself. The director's local ties run deep: Ganakas went to grade school with Lupe Izzo, and his father was Gus Ganakas, basketball coach at Michigan State.

Nicolette Hart of upstate New York has been in Broadway shows (RENT, Million Dollar Quartet) and tours (Broadway Dolls) for several years, and plays what she describes as the "bad girl, joker, comedian, edgy girl in the show." She met Greg Ganakas when he directed her in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

For those attending the show, A Christmas Cabaret has what Hart says is a "beautiful mix" of traditional arrangements of Christmas songs with funny moments from local celebrities and dancing.

Despite being a New Yorker, Hart has had the opportunity to learn a lot about the local Michigan culture and jokes featured in the show from its director.

"I get my fill, my stories from Greg of course. We get a good dose of anecdotes. Having Andy and Lupe here is really fun. Other cast members are from here as well, so we get some good local humor and a heavy dose of the accent, which is amazing."

While Hart is not currently in a Broadway show, the silver lining is being able to have a break during what is normally a busy time of year on Broadway, and spending time with family at the holidays.

Another star of the show, Stephen Carrasco, is an Okemos High School graduate who has been living in New York City since graduating with his BFA from Syracuse in 2006.

Carrasco participated in theater at Okemos High School, and has been living his dream of performing in Broadway shows and tours ever since. Being on the Young Frankenstein tour was a favorite experience, because the show played at the Wharton Center.

Being a part of A Christmas Cabaret in East Lansing also allows him to spend time with family around the holidays.

"It's amazing to be home for Christmas, but to be able to do a show at the Wharton Center - I mean I grew up seeing shows here - so it's really special and amazing. Greg is wonderful at making this so tailored to this city. I get to do what I do on a daily basis in New York, but to do it in my hometown is amazing."


Catch the holiday spirit with A Christmas Cabaret, playing at the Pasant Theatre inside the Wharton Center December 14-16, 2012. Click here for show and ticket information.