Cabaret Nights returns to Vail |

Cabaret Nights returns to Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Cabaret 01 TS 11-23-08

VAIL, Colorado ” Cabaret is back. The Marketplace on Meadow Drive tested the appeal of the American songbook this summer when it hired eight servers to sing Broadway tunes.

What began as an experiment has turned into an extended ode to crooning by candlelight.

“Cabaret Nights” is now a permanent fixture at the Vail bistro. The winter cabaret season started last week and will run on weekends through the end of the ski season.

“With this economy, people want to be entertained,” said music director Rayla Kundolf, a local art gallery director. “And there’s nothing like a good musical, is there? You walk away whistling, tapping ” or you see the youth or a mother who’s showing her kid: I can do this.”

This winter, patrons will find a more polished version of the summer cabaret. Group numbers, fresh cast members and a veteran pianist are new this season. Organizers also added a 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. show to cater to the apre ski crowd.

“The early show we think is going to attract a lot of families,” Marketplace owner Bob McNichols said. “And because it’s good, wholesome Broadway musical entertainment, it’s going to be attractive to families who want to bring their kids in, and the kids will see somebody performing live right in front of them.”

Eight waiters and waitresses burst into a chorus of “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” on a recent Sunday evening.

Sitting at a table in the audience, Lakewood resident Lynn Tumey closed her eyes and mouthed the words. It was an emotional moment for Turney, 49, who said the tune reminds her of a friend who passed away.

“I just think that’s a fabulous song,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. “I love it.”

Group numbers are a new addition to Cabaret Nights. They will likely become a staple of the shows. Kundolf envisions introducing theme nights in the future.

“As we evolve, we’re going to have a night of ‘Chorus Line’ or a night of nothing but ‘Guys and Dolls,’ or a night of ‘Avenue Q,’ so everybody has to learn all the songs,” she said. “It will be like a reprise of a whole musical. That’s the goal we’re trying to get to. Right now we’re just introducing the group numbers.”

Seventeen-year-old Sage Buchalter considers why she auditioned for “Cabaret Nights” as she spreads a black cloth over one of the tables.

“It’s kind of the dream job,” she said. “You get to make money, but you also get the performance experience.”

For drama types, the cabaret show has been welcome practice for upcoming school musicals. Servers Buchalter, 15-year-old Kate Manley and 16-year-old Gina Lovell plan to compete for the role of Rizzo in Battle Mountain’s spring production of “Grease.”

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Miles Gordon hopes cabaret will give him “the courage to stand up and belt it” during auditions for Vail Mountain School’s musical, he said.

The winter cast includes 17 servers, more than twice the number of singers who participated in the summer. The Marketplace continues to search for a full-time accompanist. Kundolf’s husband, Taylor Kundolf, 45, has been filling in on the piano. He has played piano on a Norwegian Cruise Line and in several Vail Valley eateries.

Singing waitress Noel Lyons, 37, said the Marketplace has become a gathering place for the musically inclined.

“All of the talent has come out of the valley and it’s really become a meeting ground for families whose kids are in school and performing, to come here and enjoy them in an atmosphere that is more interactive,” she said.

While auditions coaxed out student talent, they also drew adults. Eagle resident Debbie Taagen, 43, said she wanted to find her “inner Broadway character.”

Taagen sang in rock ‘n’ roll bands prior to having children, and now runs a business teaching music to kids.

“I sing but I’m always singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,'” she said with a laugh. “And you know, I kind of wanted to broaden my horizons, so to speak.”

As Taagen sang “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a trio of women including Tumey shared a grilled artichoke at a nearby table.

Tumey said she saw Cabaret Nights on a chalkboard listing things to do at the Avon condo where she had been staying.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s not karaoke. These people actually have talent and I really enjoy that. I really enjoy the venue because the Marketplace is a taste of France.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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