Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Congo Cabaret: Hosted by Muley the Mule and Friends - Part 1: The Beginning

Although this show was live, it went off with very few hitches, namely the crew members (Muley's friends) that kept interrupting the show's host (obviously Muley) about an unexpected late-arrival to the program.  That's another story for another post.

This is a story about the behind the scenes of The Congo Cabaret: "That's Entertainment!"

On January 22, 2017, Muley the Mule and Friends helped host The Congo Cabaret, a two-hour dinner-and-a-show live program featuring many great talents before 100 guests and raising nearly $2500 for the food ministries of First Congregational Church which feeds lunch to nearly 400 people per week, helps supplement around 300+ families with food, offers a chance to shop for more supplemental food on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and a clothes closet on Tuesday and Thursday.  And this is weekly, folks!  Oh, and you can donate to the cause if you CLICK HERE.

In spring 2016, the idea for expanding one of our own shows, Muley's Talent(less) Revue, into a full-fledged two-hour talent program to support everything in the last paragraph was taking slow form in the shape of an outline, but it just wasn't right.  Things were amiss.  In August 2016, Joel Chapman gave a call that he wanted to produce a Cabaret and wanted Muley and Friends to host.  His notes were in line with ours, more or less, and we of course said: Yeah!

The talent came from within the church itself featuring many who have traveled and toured with their shows (including our fuzzy cast) and as they were all signing-up, with some surprises thrown in, it became clear that this was destined to be a fantastic night of entertainment unseen in those hallowed halls.

But, it all has to begin with planning to work out a show for 13 human performers, volunteers, chefs, and four willing critters which became a 31-page script for the hosts including two performances not listed and two performers that were our secrets.  Don't you want to know yet?  Keep on reading.

A meeting was held at the Congo Cafe in "The Hub" where the show would be performed to plot-out the lay of the land: stage, set, host-stand.  Producer Joel Chapman met with Kevin L. Williams and DaMarco Randle to discuss staging the production, and Joel's stage experience found him setting the lights and designing not only the stage, but also the title logo, poster, and program.  There would be a historical display of  the "Muley-verse."  The Art Department would be in charge of enlarging the "That's Entertainment" sign for the stage itself.  It was determined that the show itself would not be recorded or televised due to the content and that it was a live show, we didn't want photography other than one official individual doing such.

Joel Chapman and DaMarco Randle measure and plan the staging.
The script was underway, the performers were all getting rehearsed, and we met for the production meeting where we would learn the line-up of the acts and what Muley the Mule and Friends would be doing for the performers' intro's and outro's.

Producer Joel Chapman, Brennan Villines, Katy Musolino, David Winter, Chris Burgess,
Mark Allen & Cheryl Cornish, Jonathan Devin, Janet Wade, Sonia Walker.

All of the above, now visible: Martheus Wade, Julia Hicks, and DaMarco Randle.
A prophetic Fortune Cookie during this time period stated:

Then, came time for posters and ticket sales.  Our very sweet, very helpful Caroline Rubenstein was there to help make sure the ticket sales were taken care of.

Poster by Joel Chapman.

Poster by Joel Chapman
Don't you just love behind-the-scenes stuff?  And, of course, there was some advertising taking place:

Published on Dec 5, 2016
Joel promises two hours of mirth and good cheer in the New Year from a Cabaret loaded with Memphis and MidSouth talent: something for all the family!

Published on Dec 12, 2016
Kevin Williams' charming, winsome, and bold "Muley" announces the First Congo Cabaret, coming Sunday, January 22, 2017. Featuring Cheryl and Mark, Brennan Villines, Joel Chapman among a delightful, family show of talented and engaging entertainers. Dinner is included! Not to be missed, so be sure to mark your calendar and save the date for "That's Entertainment" Cabaret!

It should be pointed out that tickets completely sold out on January 16, 2017, for this spectacular show!

And while all of this was taking place, preparations continued with show construction.  Here are some stage views during Tech Rehearsals on January 21, 2017!  We're one night until showtime!

DaMarco Randle and Joel Chapman adding some finishing touches.

Muley & Friends' stage in place, Chris Burgess on drums
and Brennan Villines on piano, Joel on lights.

The crew is in place for the Tech Rehearsals.

Tamar Love arrived and took up her bass to complete the house band.

More stage views:

View of the stage from the green room.

View of the green room from the stage.

The literal green room.

The performers' view of the stage.  You can see behind the scenes
of Muley the Mule and Friends here...

Look at all those scripts, and sound equipment supplied by Brad Alsobrook.

Another view behind the stage.  Hmmm...who's under those sheets napping?
The show's programs and tickets were printed and ready for the following night:

The script was completed and signed by all the cast that night.

In a U-shape, starting top-left: Joel Chapman, Sarah Dietsche, Sonia Walker,
Cheryl Cornish, Julia Hicks and Catherine Dixon, Martheus Antone Wade,
Janet Wade, DaMarco Randle, Mark Allen, Randall Rushing, Jonathan Devin,
Brennan Villines, Zarabeth Davis, Tamar Love.
So, now Tech Rehearsal is complete and everyone is ready for the show.  The first thing to greet the audience upon entry is, of course, the "History of the Muley-verse" display which we'll look at next along with the full program scans and list of cast and crew credits for the show!

After that: SHOWTIME!!

Photography by Kevin L. Williams and Christopher Davis.
Video by Kevin L. Williams and Roger Courts.

Muley the Mule and Friends © Kevin L. Williams Productions.

Read below for parts 2 - 4 or 5 or whatever...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Congo Cabaret: Hosted by Muley the Mule and Friends - Part 2: "History of the Muley-Verse"

Our last post led us into the beginnings of The Congo Cabaret with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show.

This post will take us through the "History of the Muley-verse" display that was in place to greet the guests of the Cabaret.

The whole display.  We featured the display in front of the Food Pantry so people could
be (hopefully) drawn over to see the Muley display, but also see the food in the background.
The hope was that people would see what they are supporting with their ticket purchase
to see "The Congo Cabaret."

Poster for "The Muley and Friends Show", a poster for the "SuperMule and the Cookie Caper" live
stage play.  The second play, "Muley's Talent(less) Revue" isn't displayed here.  SuperMule is
seen in the background.

"Spokesmule of the Century" certificate and an award given to Muley by the Ronald McDonald House.
A copy of Muley's Comix and Stories, the award Muley won performing "Soul-Mule" on the Carnival
Conquest.  An autographed photo of Muley, Kevin and Jeannie Schulz taken during the 2008 visit and
presentation to the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA.

Muley 1999, Muley 1990, Missy 1990, Buford 1985, Buford 1990.

Meeting another legend, Carrol Spinney and his wife, Debbie.  Fan-art sculptures, and the most
original drawing of Muley from January 1, 1980.

The process of a comic strip, and the bits and pieces of a puppet.
 The show program as created by Joel Chapman.

Not listed in the Musical Numbers are the secret presentations we performed:
"You're the One that I Want," Muley, Missy backed by Buford/Pascha and Roy Duck/Bernetta

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Congo Cabaret: Hosted by Muley the Mule and Friends - Part 3: SHOWTIME! Part One


January 22, 2017, 5:30 p.m., and the audience has arrived and fixed their plates, taking their seats at the tables.

During the dessert course, the lights in the house begin to fade, and the lights on the stage come up on Captain Davis of the Bonnieville Police Department to deliver the Pre-Show Announcement.  "No flash photography, no videography, and no audio recording.  In case of fire your exits are over there, over there, somewhere back there and maybe out the window; but, don't get in my way in case of fire.  In case of an alien invasion, get in my way - I hate getting shot by lasers."

As Captain Davis goes backstage, the Cabaret Band, Brennan Villines on keyboard, Tamar Love on bass, and Chris Burgess on percussion, strike up the music with a rousing instrumental of "That's Entertainment."

Muley the Mule, Master of Ceremonies, appears on the stage to welcome the audience and start the show.  He's interrupted by his best friends:  Buford the Dog, Stage Manger, who has come worried about the arrival of Frankie Steinatra of TransylVegas - whose show application was supposed to be returned by Roy Duck, Talent Coordinator, but apparently it wasn't.  After all, they couldn't afford the guy.

Missy Mule finally arrives with her own interruption upset that she's only working in Make-up and Costuming and not performing.

Clearing his friends from the stage came Muley with his introduction of Pastor Cheryl Cornish and husband Mark Allen performing the "Erotica Sonata and Variations" by PDQ Bach.

Just as Muley prepared to introduce the second act of the night, he was interrupted by Buford and Roy Duck to announce that Frankie Steinatra had just arrived.  Convincing them that all would be taken care of, Muley announced Joel Chapman and Jonathan Devin performing "Lily's Eyes" from "The Secret Garden."

Finally, Frankie finds his way to the stage where he's confronted by Missy and told he can't be there because he can't be afforded.  To which he replies, "I'll turn it in as a charitable donation."

He leaves and Missy announces Brenan Villines performing his own original songs "Better Than We've Ever Been" and "Live On."

After convincing Roy Duck to NOT sing Lou Rawls, Muley introduced our top-secret performer for the night: performing "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore" from "Gigi," Pastor Sonia Walker!

Without the permission of Stage Manager, Buford the Dog, Missy Mule changed the show line-up to include Frankie Steinatra.

Now needing to fix the show's line-up, Muley runs off after introducing Sibella including Tamar Love and Sarah Dietsche performing their original tunes "Friends," "Your Name On My Lips," and "Hard Row To Hoe."

In a big blow-up between Muley and Missy, she convinces him to sing a duet with her with back-up by Buford and Roy Duck, and Pascha Dog and Bernetta Duck, performing "You're The One That I Want," from Grease.

Intermission equals the end of Part One!