Wicked Fun Cabaret benefit offers musical shenanigans

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Some warm up exercises prepare this group for their upcoming fundraiser. —Courtesy Bill Peek

Martha’s Vineyard is the year-round home of a number of gifted artists and musicians. On Tuesday evening, August 28, at 8 pm, seven of the Vineyard’s musical theater performers offer the Wicked Fun Musical Cabaret at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs. Described as an “uplifting evening of musical theater shenanigans,” this acclaimed ensemble is guaranteed to deliver an enjoyable program.

Molly Conole, Jenny Friedman, Ken Romero, David Behnke, and Paul Munafo have long and impressive résumés as performers in musical theater. According to a press release, all have had lead roles in musicals throughout the country and abroad, but all bring their own unique skills and experience to this varied show. Conole performed for 25 years at Walt Disney World, where she created and performed as such characters as Madam Fortunafish (fortune teller to stars and fish) and Helen Highwater (ex-librarian and future star). Behnke brings his opera training at the Yale School of Music and the Paris Conservatory into play interpreting characters from Sweeney Todd to Charlie Brown’s Snoopy. Romero brings an encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater repertoire and years of experience singing, tap dancing, and roller skating on stages throughout the world. Munafo has been deeply involved with productions at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse for many years, and Friedman has performed frequently at the M.V. Performing Arts Center and throughout the Northeast.

The ensemble is accompanied by two stellar pianists, Molly Sturges and Peter Boak. Sturges has performed regularly at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut since 2001. Boak is well known to Islanders as the director of the Island Community Chorus, minister of music of the Federated Church in Edgartown, and a music teacher to a generation of Island children.

The Wicked Fun Cabaret Benefit is an outgrowth of the Wicked Good Musical Revue, a program this ensemble has offered at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse for several years. The program is being produced as a fundraiser for the music programs of two Island church congregations, the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury and Union Chapel. The performers are active participants in the music programs of these churches. Union Chapel is embarking on a campaign to restore its 1924 Austin pipe organ, and the Wicked Fun Benefit will be the first fundraiser for this ambitious project. Funds will also go to the Congregational Church for its music program. Tickets are $25 ($15 for students), and will be sold after services at both churches, and available at the door.