Waiters serve up Broadway tunes in Vail
The Marketplace on Meadow Drive in Vail morphs into a cabaret venue this summer

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
June 28, 2008

VAIL, Colorado — Kurt and Meg Segerberg were strolling through Vail Village after a Bravo! concert Wednesday night when they spotted a sign for “Cabaret Nights” outside The Marketplace on Meadow Drive.

Curious, they ducked inside the cafe and sat down at a table with a flickering candle.
A young waitor with spikey blond hair and good posture took their order as keyboard playing struck up in the background.

The waitor certainly looked the part — starched white shirt, black pants and black apron — but when Meg Segerberg asked which red wines the cafe offers, he gave an odd response. “To be honest, I don’t really know because I don’t drink wine, but I’ll ask,” the waitor promised.

Next thing they knew, the waiter was standing in the front of the cafe, belting “Luck be a Lady” into a microphone. And this was no sloppy karaoke squawking. The waitor dished out flawless pitch and confident stage presence, clearly the result of rehearsals.

The Segerbergs from Edwards had stumbled upon the opening of “Caberet Nights,” a series of performances featuring singing waiters and waitresses at the Marketplace. The performances will take place regularly through the end of July.

‘Catching’ the crowd

Marketplace owner Bob McNichols came up with the idea during a brainstorming session on how to bring customers into The Marketplace during the offseason. He timed the caberet nights to follow Bravo!’s classical music concerts at the Ford Amphitheater in Vail.

“We knew people would be in town for those events and there’s a crowd of how many thousand people that are out for the evening and appreciate music so we thought we’d try to catch them on the way out,” he said.

McNichols encountered caberet in his travels to Santa Fe, N.M., where waiters sing Broadway tunes at La Casa Sena restaurant. Coincidentally, a business manager in Vail Village helped launch the caberet performances at La Casa Sena in the 1980s.
Most people know Rayla Kundolf as the director of Masters Gallery, but she was among the original troubadores at La Casa Sena. At 27, Kundolf had been living in Santa Fe when she responded to an ad for singing waitresses at the restaurant. She soon found herself performing Broadway tunes for the likes of John Travolta and Bette Middler as the restaurant’s reputation spread.

Kundolf was happy to help launch caberet nights at the Marketplace, and soon area piano teacher Dawn Poff signed on as musical director. The only thing missing was the talent.

Talented talent

Auditions in May and June attracted roughly a dozen local singers. Eight made the cut, and of those, three singers were scheduled to rotate songs on opening night.

The cafe was nearly empty when 18-year-old Sage Smith, the blond waiter who sang “Luck Be a Lady” kicked off the tunes at 8 p.m. The Eagle Valley High School graduate looked comfortable enough singing in front of the empty tables, but where were the customers?

Midway through Smith’s warmup of “Mister Cellophane,” a few people crowded outside the cafe’s door. Less than an hour later, the cafe was packed. Customers sipped wine, noshed on tapas and chatted as the three performers took turns singing and waiting tables.

A gentleman wearing a cowboy hat tapped his fingers appreciatively as 29-year-old Mercedes Dauphinais performed “La Vie En Rose.” Having recently returned to Vail from Nashville, Tenn., where she studied under country singer Kathy Mattea, Dauphinais wooed the crowd with her sultry vibrato. Former U.S. ski team member Noel Lyons, 42, completed the singing trio with her spirited renditions of “Makin’ Whoopee” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”

Caberet’s return

Cabaret is on an upswing in Vail this summer. In addition to the marketplace’s “Caberet Nights,” Bravo! will include a cabaret performance for the first time this year. Vocalist Andrea Marcovicci will sing “I’ll be seeing you ... love songs from WWII” on July 5.

Vail hasn’t had steady cabaret shows since Club Majiks shut down in the early 1990s. The club was located in the building that once housed 8150 and featured dinner theater.

Meg Segerberg said she’s glad to see cabaret make an encore at the Marketplace.
“That Club Majiks was such a huge success, and I know they had issues at the time and it disappeared, but it was pretty popular,” she said. “I think they’re filling a void here.”

Beaver Creek skiing instructor Chalky White, who came to opening night at the Marketplace, echoed the sentiment.

“Great, fabulous idea,” he said. “I think this place could definitely uncover some really good, young talent.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

Waiter Sage Smith performs "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical "Chicago" during Wednesday's inaugural summer cabaret performance at the Marketplace in Vail. Smith and a number of other performers sing and wait tables during the performances.

Theo Stroomer/tstroomer@vaildaily.com

 

Keyboardist Dawn Poff provides the music behind the performers during cabaret nights. While not a traditional music venue, performers make use of the space they have available in the Marketplace for each cabaret performance.

Theo Stroomer/Vail Daily