New annual variety show planned for Aquinnah

Two Vineyard performers want to showcase the Island's talent with an event in April.

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Jordan-Decker (left) and Taylor (right) during a musical performance in Menemsha. —Courtesy Laura Jordan-Decker

Planners of a variety show at Aquinnah town hall are looking to complete a lineup of talented Vineyarders for a community-focused, all-ages variety show in April, which organizers hope will become a yearly tradition.

Multiple open-call events for talent have been held since the end of January. In addition to singers and writers, the organizers are especially looking for acts on the unexpected or more curious side — whether magicians, comedians, ventriloquists, or acrobats.

Vineyard musicians Laura Jordan-Decker and Kate Taylor had the idea for the show two years ago, when they first started playing together. Jordan-Decker and Taylor, who are in the band the Ukuladies, will perform. Setsunai, the duo of Jordan-Decker and Kaila Allen-Posin, will perform as well.

Jordan-Decker told the Times that the show will not be simply a series of separated acts, but a more fluid display of complementary performers. Jordan-Decker also wants to bring Vineyarders of different ages together, and offered a possible example. “A single violin will be playing while somebody is reciting a poem, and that will kind of segue into somebody dancing along to some other kind of music. And then there will be a moment where there are 15 or 20 minutes of kids’ performances,” Jordan-Decker said.

She added that there might be pieces in which the entire cast performs together.

As the show is in the planning phase, Jordan-Decker has been seeing what kinds of acts become available as people sign up. “The idea,” she said, “is that we see what the talent is, and we kind of weave the show together from there.”

Jordan-Decker also said that she would like to see the show have some circus-type acts, whether on unicycle, spinning plates, or wielding a lasso. “Anything sort of unexpected like that would be great,” she said.

So far, Jordan-Decker says that some people have signed up as musicians, poets, dancers, and to recite a children’s story. The show is intended to have around 15 acts.

Jordan-Decker says that she wants to showcase Aquinnah residents first and foremost, but that performers from across the Vineyard may take part. “It’s for anybody who would like to be a part of it,” she says. “[And] just to see if we can showcase some of the talent that’s hiding up in Aquinnah in the wintertime.”

Jordan-Decker also sees winter as a prime time of year to cultivate talents. Winter is “a creative time, and a time when people might actually have a chance to work on something,” she said. “Or, even if they are performers who are used to performing all the time, it might be an opportunity for them to try something else that they may not even be known for, usually.”

Sourcing talent from all age groups has been a focus in the open calls, according to Jordan-Decker, and will be a key part of the April show. “All the generations showed up. And that’s one of the things that Kate and I feel is really special about the Island … when you go to events, it’s always all ages, it seems.”

Jordan-Decker observed the community-building potential of the variety show at the first open call. “My son had prepared a piece on his drums, and there was a young girl there who had come to sing with us, and we just had them get up in the moment and sing and play together,” she said. “So it has that spirit of, ‘What does this look like if we pull this talent together with this, and what does that like?’ And hopefully some cool little magic things can come out of it.”

Jordan-Decker says that the show will likely occur in the second week of April. She adds that performers will rehearse about three times in the next couple of months, and three times the week of the show.

“We’ve got this beautiful town with all these amazing people,” Jordan-Decker says of Aquinnah, “and we bet that there are all kinds of people with all kinds of talent.”

She adds that once all acts are confirmed, an additional call will be made for those with lighting and sound experience to help out with the show.

For those interested in contacting the organizers: Jordan-Decker can be reached at larajordandecker@gmail.com, and Taylor can be reached at kct333@gmail.com.

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