Four years ago, Sonoma County producer Jake Ward set out to spice up the local live entertainment scene with a mix of vaudeville, burlesque and circus acts that he named North Bay Cabaret.
For the next three and a half years, the show drew crowds of up to 200 fans every month at the Whiskey Tip nightclub, until last October’s wildfires forced many promoters to cancel or postpone events for a while.
“Our monthly event was coming up, but at that point the air quality was still really bad, and the show was outdoors. Then moving forward, I think we just all needed to regroup in our personal lives as well,” Ward said. “And rather than relaunching with a monthly event, there’s just been other opportunities that have come up, and so now we’re more open. Now we’re doing larger parties for bars that we work with.”
For example, last May 4, Ward and his North Bay Cabaret troupe presented the “Star Wars”-themed “May the Fourth Be With You” party at Santa Rosa’s House of Rock.
“We do Halloween, New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day events and now we’re branching out into private parties as well, where we’ll get hired for a special event at a restaurant or a winery, or a birthday party. We did a prom recently. This has taken on a life of its own,” Ward said.
But this weekend, to celebrate its fourth year of often outrageous live entertainment, North Cabaret will return home to Whiskey Tip to mark the occasion with an evening of performances by the troupe’s trademark exotic dancers, comics, acrobats, poets and more.
The performance starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, June, 30, and at 10 p.m., after the show, patrons can stay and dance to DJ music.
“What I love about vaudeville is the amount of creative expression there’s room for,” Ward said. “There’s really no rules on what type of acts you’ll see — comedy, magicians, circus performers and burlesque, but there’s really nothing that you can’t put in the context of a variety show.
North Bay Cabaret has found a broad local audience ranging in age from late 20s through 40s, Ward said.
“We’re pretty eclectic. We book a lot of local acts, who bring in their own crowds,” Ward said. “We have our core regular cast of about 20 local performers from Sonoma County. Every show, though, is also supplemented by guest performers who are largely from the Bay Area, and we also get national performers on tour.”
Ward, 30, lives in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood and produced the first Roseland Community Festival there last year. He hopes to bring back the festival next summer.
“It’s going to continue,” he said. “We want to build quite a bit on what we did the first year and didn’t actually have the bandwidth to do that his year, so we are planning to come back with our second, full-fledged Roseland Community Festival in 2019. This year, we did a Cinco de Mayo event at Whiskey Tip that was premised the same way, with a format that was bilingual and showcased Roseland artists.”
You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.
If You Go
What: North Bay Cabaret 4th Anniversary
When: Doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 30, with a variety show from 8 to 10 p.m. and a DJ dance party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Where: Whiskey Tip, 1910 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa