The A-Sisters Cabaret
- By gentleguide
- On Sat 02 feb 2019
USO Tours, 3-part harmonies, and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy will be the order of the evening on Saturday February 9, when the Late-Nite Cabaret slot at Noce is filled with three fantastic ladies collectively known as The A-Sisters. Complete with tunes from the legendary Andrews Sisters and other memorable melodies, the trio of Allison Bollinger, Alison Buechler, and Ashley Rogers will weave their beautiful musical spell with classics from that era.
To travel back in time to those days of yore isn’t all that difficult, especially when you’ve got people who grew up on the music of the day. “I was born in the wrong era in most ways,” exclaims Rogers. “This music has been near and dear to my heart for quite some time-- so having a venue to express my sentiments towards the rhythm and character of this time is a a true honor.”
Bollinger picks up the story. “The concept of a USO show originally came about when Ashley and I still lived in Waterloo, IA. We have both spent many years performing for the Waterloo Community Playhouse and they had the opportunity to present a USO themed show to a group of veterans. They hired myself, Ashley, and one other local gal to present the show, showcasing music sung by the Andrews Sisters and other classic songs from the 40's. Ashley and I fell in love with the concept so much that we had the continued interest to present a similar style show again. Noce seemed like the perfect venue for a show like this and we were lucky enough to meet Alison Buechler in the planning process. She seemed like the perfect addition to our show.”
Now it’s Buechler’s turn to tell how they got together. “I met Allison through doing Elf-the Musical at the Des Moines Playhouse, and it was rather hilarious because we were both called at callbacks. [They] asked for ‘Alison B’ and we both answered yes. And thus the confusion began! Allison and I were both cast in Elf and we had a great time doing the show together. I met Ashley through Allison.”
Once they were all together, the brainstorming started for this new show. Buechler says, “Initially we had all met at an Applebees and collaborated on songs that we knew would fit the USO/Andrews Sisters style theme. We wanted to do some of the classics that the Andrews Sisters were known for, such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Rum and Coca-Cola. We all found we have had experience with jazz music - I had been a part of an a cappella vocal jazz group for two years, mainly contemporary stuff but we would often do traditional. So it's been a really fun experience diving in and singing with these gals.”
There’s more to The A-Sisters cabaret night than just a tribute to one group, however. As Bollinger describes, “We decided to shoot for a concept of showcasing songs written by some of the more classic musical theater composers and writers, including George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Stephen Sondheim. We knew we needed to represent musical theater since we are performing in the late-nite cabaret timeslot. While we are singing quite a few songs originally written by Gershwin, Berlin, and Sondheim, we will each also be singing a few surprises that are familiar classics from the 40s era.”
Rogers is excited for the multiple opportunities. “There will be a mixture of solos, duets, and trios alike! This is absolutely a time for three/four part harmony--so duets were a bit more difficult to come across. However, that is the greatest thing about collaborating with such an exceptional team--I strongly believe our set-list has compiled some of our favorites--as well as tunes that will help the audience stay enthralled throughout the entire evening!”
Rogers continues. “We knew Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy had to make the list--along with other Andrews Sisters favorites, i.e. Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree, and (eventually) Alexander's Ragtime as well. Once we delved a bit further into the repertoire of Berlin, Gershwin, and Sondheim--this allowed us to shape the performance even more so to our own personal liking. I've picked three solos that I've always wanted to sing - from three truly exceptional women that I've listened to countless times growing up (Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney) - embracing and striving to emulate everything they are (and were) to audiences today.”
The ladies are going all out to make this event feel like it’s back in the 1940’s USO era, and they found a little help to do just that. The A-Sisters know how to look and act the part, as Buechler relates. “We will be wearing costumes for the cabaret. We were lucky and found our outfits at Atomic Garage and they have been super awesome in letting us use the rentals for literally nothing for the show. Atomic Garage is located in the historic Valley Junction and is a great place to get rentals for various periods of time. We were also lucky enough to do a photo shoot within the location as well!” That’s where the pictures for this article came from, thanks to photographer Lucas White, who was also in that production of Elf with Bollinger and Buechler.
Bollinger is planning on an authentic experience for anyone who comes to see the performance. “There will not be any surprise special guests for this one. We decided we wanted to stay true to the concept of a three woman USO show, which is how they were typically performed originally, aside from the backup of a big band. We are lucky enough to have a small pit backing us up. Francine Griffith is our accompanist, our dear friend back from Waterloo, Andrew Clohessey, will be joining us playing upright bass, and Des Moines theater local Kyle Bochart will be playing drums. We could not be more excited to have them on board!”
The personal Facebook page for Rogers has the description An ode to all that is vintage. “Fashion blogs and vintage looks are a slight obsession of mine. I'm happy to look the part as well as portray it---and we will all be dressed as such! I am so grateful for the opportunity to truly embrace an era of music with love, loss, longing, and tribute. I've long looked up to the voices that shaped the music charts of this time; and while my heart truly lives in the 60's and 70's---my soul is with the women of jazz, and the lovely, unforgettable Andrews Sisters.”
The A-Sisters bring classic tight harmonies and jumping jazz to the Late-Nite Cabaret on February 9, starting at 10:30pm. As always, there’s no cover charge for the Late-Nite events at Noce, and a cash bar (which is one place where it’s NOT like a USO show, there used to be no actual liquor allowed!) Come have a great time, with great people and great music, and The A-Sisters will tell you all about that Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B!!!