RPP creates pandemonium: A COVID cabaret

March 21, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY ERICA RESS MARTIN – What a strange year it has been. RPP’s big musical “Nunsense” was shut down in the middle of the run last March. Then every RPP production was completely postponed until the 2021 – 2022 season. The Community Center seemed empty without the various rooms Royal Palm Players usually fills with the sounds of comedy, drama, music and dance rehearsals. All going at the same time. For the performers anxious to get back to perfecting their skills, the frustration mounted each month.
Fortunately, last December a COVID-safe cabaret was created by Alice Court, Meryl Schaffer, Bill Whitney, Laura Brock and dozens of other talented folks. The crowds cheered as singers, dancers and actors entertained for over an hour in ‘Twas the Night – A Covid Christmas Cabaret.’ As you may recall, it was performed outside under the Friends Pavilion at the Community Center, to great acclaim.
Everyone in the show and in the audience loved the experience, so RPP decided to do it again by writing a brand new Spring show. No, it’s not the big musical you are used to, but it does feature many of Boca Grande’s favorite singers, favorite dancers and favorite performers.
On April 8, 9 and 10 at 5 p.m., under the Friends Pavilion at the Boca Grande Community Center, another fabulous theatrical experience is opening. “Pandemonium – A COVID Cabaret” was written by Alice Court, Tad Ingram (the director) and Erica Ress Martin. RPP Board members, led by Ann Fletcher, Bill Whitney and Priscilla Masselink offered suggestions along the way and Emmy Award-winning set designer Laura Brock put everything together into a show designed for fun.
Of course, trying to rehearse on Zoom until the very last 10 days, is challenging – especially for Tad Ingram, the director, Jason Tucker, the musical director and Chris Lee, the tap choreographer. Masks, face shields, internet speed and time delays are just part of the problem. Still, everyone from the Tappers to the singers to the comedians are dedicated to flexing their talents to the max.
Picture a 1950s television show like The Ted Mack Amateur Hour, where the host and the announcer banter throughout the show. Where crazy commercials are performed in real time. And where performers try their best to get the audience on their side (Yes. American Idol just updated the premise).
Now picture Stan Ikenberry as the host and Bill Whitney as his sidekick announcer, who also plays the drums.
As for the rest of the cast, it’s packed with many of our island’s favorite stars. Fred Allardyce, David Jenkins, Jeff Lehrian, Hal McCombs, Rich Mutkoski, Peter Powell, John Thomas and Ross Witschonke are the male leads. Alice Court, Margaret Bush, Carol B. Forrester, Robbin Gilligan, Mary Hancur, Joan Kale, Ned Lehrian, Erica Ress Martin, Linda Rollyson, Robbie Stanley, Laurie Meeks Watkins and Kimberly Whipple are the female leads. Every single one of them is already rehearsing behind the scenes, in the homes, on Zoom, to make this a very special spring musical event.
Seating is socially distant. Golf cart and lawn chair options are available at $50 per square. Each square can seat up to 4 people and masks are required as you enter. Just call Kathy at (941) 964-2670 or drop by the RPP office and reserve your square today. Don’t wait too long. With covid safety restrictions, no extra seats can be added.
Let’s spring and get sprung from lockdown together.