Jonny Flash

Cabaret keeps audience on its toes

Open mic venue a fun for all ages event

From T-shirts to visits from the Queen, prizes at the monthly cabaret at United Church in Oak Bay run the gamut.

It’s an intentional ploy to keep the crowd happy and the event unpredictable during the Bring it On Cabaret and open mic nights.

“We try and have surprising things happen. We had the Queen visit. We have draws and occasionally we do something outrageous,” said organizer Jim Ricks. “It’s great to have something that has some aspect of risk or ‘Oh my God what’s going to happen.’”

Once four people won T-shirts, then went upstairs and came back to perform as a quartet.

“Another time we had what we call ‘A star is born’ draw. A young woman comes up and I said to the audience ‘so and so is going to be taken away and costumed and coached and she will prepare a singing number for us,’” he said. “She steps up to the microphone … she opens her mouth and she has the most unbelievable, magnificent voice as she sings this aria … of course she was a ringer, she was a setup. But the audience didn’t know that.”

The first cabaret ran in early 2012 after an inspirational birthday party that everyone felt would be welcome on a regular basis.

“We had a great evening, we put on a part where everyone came in period clothing from the ‘40s,” Ricks said. “We did a show and it was billed as an old time radio show. I was the announcer.”

No one wanted it to stop and Gord Miller of the United Church said, “we ought to do this more often.”

Thus the cabaret and open mic nights were born.

The room transforms to a cabaret for an all-ages show.

“The open mic performers, they’ve ranged from OK up to amazing,” Ricks said.

Tonight (Sept. 19) entertainer Jonny Flash, a juggler and comic, is the featured headliner at the event that routinely draws an audience of 70 to 80 people.

“When I met him, the energy and the way he looks and presents himself, this guy’s a seasoned street performer,” Ricks said.

Doors open at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19 with the show at 7:30 at Oak Bay United Church hall, at the corner of Mitchell and Granite streets. Admission is $5. Visit facebook.com/bringitoncabaret for updates.

Bonus for performing youth

This year the organizers are offering a draw for $1,000 bursary at the end of the year. It’s open for anyone under 25 who performs during the cabarets this season.