Conundrum Stages and the Theatre Of Collaborative Arts recently partnered to present Love is in the Air: A Musical Mystery Show, a fun-filled performance that offered a twist on the time-tested genre of the cabaret by incorporating a mystery-themed frame story to make things a little more intriguing. Along with having migrated from an initial performance in West Palm Beach to Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale, the show was also adapted from an original dinner theatre format, a context that the style and silliness of the show were probably somewhat better suited to.
Still, there were undeniable pleasures to be had in sitting back and enjoying the agenda. Carlo Sabusap served as MC of the evening, aided by pre-recorded narration tracks that end up playing an unexpected role in the unraveling of the night’s “mystery,” in which audience members were asked to help “solve” at the end of the show by guessing which of the show’s five other participants were responsible for a “crime” against him that takes place midway through.
By turns, he invited to the mic a group of talented performers including Kalli Courakos, Trevohnn Garner, Ashley Gravlin, Greg Halmos, and Nicole Roach. First, the crew delivered an array of love-themed musical numbers, as the performance was originally planned for Valentine’s Day weekend before a COVID derailment delayed the premiere until June. In the show’s second half, after it becomes clear that there’s a criminal in the mix, the theme of the songs switches to villainy.
Though some of the singers were more engaging and competent than others, all were clearly genuinely talented and imbued enough personality into their songs to keep the proceedings relatively interesting throughout the ensuing mix of pop songs and movie or musical theatre standards. Some particularly memorable numbers were Halmos’s “Be Prepared,” which he finished off with an impressive evil laugh, Courakos’ “No Good Deed,” belted ferociously, and Roach’s spunky “Son of A Preacher Man,”
Garner’s deep, melodic voice and Gravlin’s sultry movements and persona also made most of their numbers relative highlights. Continuous banter between the performers and Sabusap also helped set up the eventual “crime” as well as keep the evening flowing, and some performers incorporated costume changes into their transitions between numbers to facilitate a visual shift. After the revelation of the criminal’s identity, the cabaret finished off with a rousing rendition of classic “Don’t Stop Believing” and invited the audience to dance along, making for an upbeat conclusion and celebratory end to the night.
A roster of such exceptional and charismatic vocalists certainly indicates intriguing possibilities for the future of the Theatre Of Collaborative Arts, a relatively young player on the SoFlo scene, as does their unique attitude and style. Though this one night only event is over for now, I’m excited to see what they dream up to next!