Dallas — From the opening notes of “Le Freak,” the breakout hit of Chic, the audience could tell it was going to be a different kind of cabaret. This was in fact going to be a party of nostalgia, fun disco songs and crazy outfits.
Denise Lee hosted the festivities and sang some classic tunes, leading off with a Donna Summer medley. She worked the crowd like a pro and got fun laughs on the lyrics for “Love to Love You Baby.” Sharing the stage with Lee was Rob Holbert, who impressed with the warm sensual songs of Barry White and the falsettos of the Bee Gees. Angie McWhirter delighted with several comic moments throughout the night. The competition between Lee and McWhirter for most outrageous disco outfit made for several laughs.
The band featured Norman Williams and “Da Band,” with Willams (piano and musical director), Holbert (sax and vocals), Ray Flippen Sr. (bass), Lawrence “Peabody” Ferrell (drums) and David Brashier (guitar).
Some nights of cabaret are filled with songs you may not have heard in a long time. “Disco Inferno” was not one of those nights — these were all tunes that everyone knew and frequently sang along to. Watching Lee and the band lead the crowd to “The Hustle” was charming. Angie McWhirter sang “Emotion” by the Bee Gees and had audience members dancing.
The festival is held in the downstairs space at the Bath House Cultural Center. I was delighted to hear during a break that the last bond package by the City of Dallas would bring 1.5 Million in improvements to the space. It is charming and rustic with a lovely view of the lake, but fully enclosing the space and adding air conditioning and updated lighting will make the space more usable, especially in summer. That said, listening to great music as the sun sets on the lake is a lovely way to spend the evening — it’s a great date night. Just remember to dress with lightly and comfortably, as this is an outdoor space.
Unlike “Love to Love You Baby,” a song that seems to go on forever, the night came to an end. The crowd happily sang along and danced in formation to “YMCA” and Denise with her family and friends closed with “We are Family.”
» The final night of the festival features Broadway and film star Saycon Sengbloh, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24. Look for reviews of the Aug. 23 and 24 performances coming on TheaterJones.