Written by Joan Stevenson—
Have you been looking for a fun and unique evening of entertainment? Are you a Broadway baby that has an inner diva just aching to belt out your favorite show tunes? Then you might want to drop into Pronto in Royal Oak on Tuesday night for a taste of Broadway. Bring your friends, have a few cocktails and sing the hits!
Your hosts for this cabaret-style show tune sing-along extravaganza are Eric and Gerianne, otherwise known as The Dynamic Duo.
Usually when you think of cabaret style entertainment you think of New York, or even Chicago, but not Detroit, Which is really a shame because Detroit was and still is such a great city for music and talent. Eric Swanson had an idea that can change that.
Eric: I was in NYC for an event and afterwards I joined some friends down at the famous Marie’s Crisis. If you don’t know that bar, it’s very popular amongst Broadway/TV actors. It is a place to just go and sing loud along with a crowd to your favorite tunes. I remember thinking that this model could work very well in the metro Detroit area! We have such a huge performing arts community that is not only talented but also rich in musical theatre/pop knowledge. So I came home and threw the idea out to Gerianne.
Gerianne: I suggested we do it as a duo act and do a combo of singing ourselves, leading the crowd, and even mixing up the type of repertoire (i.e. musical theatre, Disney, and pop). To be honest, we had wanted to do a duo act for some time and this time around, it just seemed right!
Eric, co-founder and artistic director of The Detroit Actors Theatre Company (DATC) and singer-songwriter Gerianne Ditto-Harvey (whom Eric calls his better half) have been making music together ever since they met in college over a decade ago and they complement each other wonderfully. Eric’s bright and bouncy energy mixed with Gerianne’s sassy, soulful, vibrant warmth makes for a pleasant party atmosphere that feels as intimate as being at a cocktail party in someone’s living room. The action starts at 9:30 pm sharp and fills up quickly so you might want to get there early to get a seat. You never know who might stop by. Members of the Prism Gay Men & Allies’ Chorus are regulars; players from the Ringwald Theatre or you could end up rubbing elbows with the touring casts of shows such as Motown the Musical, and Rent. How does that happen?
Eric: So when I was on tour in Ft. Lauderdale, I saw a show hosted by the fabulous force to be reckoned with Jennifer McClain at another bar doing something similar to what we do here, a show tune sing-along and sort of an open mic, theirs was less of a sing along. We do a lot more sharing of the tunes where it’s open mic and group sing. So at this show Jennifer had guests from the tour of the little mermaid and I thought that’s a great idea we have a huge touring location here with the Fisher and the Fox theaters. I sent her a message after; can I steal your cast party idea? So when I got back home I just happened to Google what tours where going to be in town and Rent was on the docket. I have history with the most amazing Jasmine Easler who was playing Joanne, she was in Hairspray with me so I asked her, hey do you think you could get a couple people to stop by and get us a couple of tickets, and she did, so we had a couple tickets to give away and coincidently I knew a dancer in the cast of Dirty Dancing so we got a couple of tickets for Dirty Dancing to give away that night as well. These tours are packed with local talent.
Last summer, the Dynamic Duo went on tour in Florida, which was a real boost to Eric in making a case to push for cabaret-style entertainment here in Detroit.
Eric: It was four major cities; it was Orlando, Vero Beach, Ft Lauderdale and Naples. It was such a wide range of venues, a couple of them were piano bars, a couple of them were massive circuit gay bars, and then a couple of them were small intimate dinner theaters that were popular among retirement communities. So we did the gamut and it was wild. I give credit to Michael Walters he‘s a Dame Edna impersonator in Ft. Lauderdale. He helped us get our first booking in Florida and referred us to almost all the venues that we booked for our tour. I think he saw some potential and in a true honest showbiz fashion, he paid it forward. We have to say thank you to him because he really made it happen for us. One of the things Gerianne and I were so struck by in south Florida was the cabaret culture is everywhere! You’ve got drag performers, you’ve got straight performers, you’ve got comedians, you’ve got the musical theatre sing-alongs, everywhere you go someone has a cabaret act and I think that’s something that can really fly here.
The Duo previously opened their act at another Metro Detroit venue, but felt the fit wasn’t exactly right and everyone parted company, but when the opportunity of performing at Pronto came along, it was met with great enthusiasm. Both agree that Pronto is a better fit for this type of entertainment.
Gerianne: There’s more of a regular clientele and they’re more receptive of the vibe.
Eric: I think Gerianne and I are home at Pronto and I think Pronto feels the same way. You’re seeing the stars of tomorrow right here. We’re going to grow and see what areas we can go here. On June 3, from 12-2pm we’re doing a Broadway brunch and we’re doing a Saturday sing-along on the restaurant side and see how that’s received. We’re hoping it’s going to go over well. Reservations have to be made through Pronto. Reservations are highly encouraged to guarantee seating in time for the show.
So for a light bit of New York style cabaret fun to perk up your Tuesdays, no need to schlep off to New York. It’s all happening right here in Royal Oak so bring all the gang to Pronto and release your inner Broadway diva! Remember the only way to guarantee seating for brunch is to call Pronto (248) 544-7900 and make your reservations!