Cabaret group plans reopening

March 23, 2009
American Cabaret Theatre is planning a comeback at an event space just a few blocks from Monument Circle.

The financially struggling group's new home will be at the Connoisseur Room, 115 E. Ohio St.

John Irish, a longtime supporter of cabaret and the arts in general, owns the building and 100-seat event space on the first floor.

"We have a partnership deal that will benefit both organizations," said Shannon Forsell, a frequent performer in past ACT shows and now the theater's managing director.

Forsell would not disclose the exact rent, but said overhead cost is dramatically lower. The Connoisseur Room will keep income from the bar, but the theater group may keep food revenue.

In a nod to the new partnership, ACT will bill its shows in the new location as "The Cabaret at the Connoisseur Room." In other locales, the group will call itself simply "The Cabaret."

ACT exited its longtime home at the Athenaeum in January after running out of cash. Four of its six staff members were laid off. ACT had been paying $100,000 a year to rent a 350-seat space at the historic Athenaeum that was rarely filled.

The board of directors scraped together enough money to relaunch on a smaller scale and with a focus away from revues and musicals and, instead, on solo cabaret performances. Forsell is excited about the Connoisseur Room's intimate lounge feel.

"The space is perfect for true cabaret," she said.

The season begins March 31 with an appearance by Jil Aigrot, the French woman who provided the voice of Edith Piaf in the 2007 biopic "La Vie en Rose." Tickets for the grand-opening gala are $100, but Forsell said future shows will cost $25 to $35.
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