Singing songs of love on the big stage

A Wicked Good Winter Cabaret returns to the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.

From left, Paul Munafo, Shelagh Hackett, Molly Conole and Ken Romero entertain the audience during their latest Wicked Good Winter Cabaret performance last Saturday. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Islanders packed the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse last Saturday night for “Love and Valentines,” the latest installment in their Wicked Good Winter Cabaret series, which had been rescheduled from Valentine’s Day due to weather conditions. Accompanied by pianist Peter Boak, Shelagh Hackett, Paul Munafo, Ken Romero, and musical director Molly Conole sang 18 love-themed show tunes from the Patricia Neal Stage, and in return, received 18 delighted rounds of applause from the audience.

“The nature of cabaret is relaxed, and that is one of the reasons I love to do it,” Ms. Hackett said in an email to The Times. “There is such a loving and warm audience every time.”

The songs performed included Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady, Stephen Sondheim’s “The Little Things You Do Together” from Company, and Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof.

Picking favorites wasn’t easy for the performers.

“I liked them all,” Ken Romero said in an email to The Times, “but if I had to pick one it would be the one Shelagh Hackett sang, ‘Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers’; that woman can sell a song!”

Ms. Hackett also found that song topped her list.

“My favorite song that I sang [was] probably ‘Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers,’ she said, “but I also loved singing the duet, ‘Do You Love Me’ with Paul [Munafo]. Paul and I have been singing together for almost 30 years, so I feel very comfortable with him.”

MJ Bruder Munafo, artistic and executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, had no small amount of praise for Ms. Conole’s musical direction.

“She’s the real talent behind the cabaret,” she said in an email to The Times. Ms. Munafo added “The turnout was really good, especially for a wintry night! There were new folks in the audience and returning fans of the cabaret. I love how strong the ensemble has grown and Molly’s brilliant selection of songs.”

Ms. Conole, who was a MVRHS Minnesinger, admitted she loves listening to her friends sing as much as she loves singing herself.

“Not only do I love singing all the songs I get to sing, in their range from the sublime to the ridiculous,” she said in an email to The Times, “but I so thoroughly enjoy watching and listening to my wonderfully talented friends bring their songs to life, too. Such fun! If I had to choose a unique highpoint of last night, it was the moving experience performing ‘Unlikely Lovers,’ with its beautiful 4-part harmonies, and beautiful message of the special and deep love of friends, which is very real for us.”

The Wicked Good Winter Cabaret series continues at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse on March 21 at 7:30 pm and again on April 18. Tickets are $23 in advance; proceeds benefit the Playhouse. For additional information and reserved tickets, visit