Saturday, December 12, 2009


by Chuck Graham

The always cheerful Winter Wonderland Holiday Cabaret at the Invisible Theatre kicks it up a notch this weekend, Dec. 11-13, with the return of Randy Roberts from his home base in Key West after a five-year absence from IT's own cabaret scene. Roberts was here in 2004 with his trunks of elaborate costumes and a wig collection that would make Marie Antoinette envious.

'You don't have to go to Caesar's Palace to see Cher,' says Roberts with so much enthusiasm you have to believe him. When he dips backstage after rehearsal at IT's cozy's mid-town theater and brings out a shimmery, silvery, slinky and fringe-y gown that catches every spark of light in the theater, that word 'glamor' also leaps in.

When he adds the black stiletto platform shoes with seven-inch heels, all bets are off. Your opinion of the real Cher won't matter.

Roberts will be lighting up the stage with his way larger than life presence for three shows at the Winter Wonderland festival, presenting his impressions of Bette Midler and Cher, of course, as well as several other show biz icons with big hair wearing other sparkling gowns he won't talk about. He doesn't want to spoil the surprise.

But a quick online word search for 'Randy Roberts' brings up a couple of Roberts' own YouTube-and-so-forth sites containing more than 20 videos of the performer in action (and costume).

'There will be no lip snyching here,' guarantees Susan Claassen, the Winter Wonderland impresario and IT's artistic director.

Both Roberts and Claassen stress the family friendliness of Roberts' shows. The spectacle is what he loves about these women, and the songs they sing.

'I'm a singing actor who can be funny,' Roberts says. 'I can look out and see everyone of all ages in the audience. People bring their grandkids, and their grandparents.'

After a full 20-year career performing as other people in glitzy venues from Las Vegas to Manhattan, Roberts is also developing a stage persona as himself.

'I always say 'Cher brings them in, Randy brings them back',' the performer adds with a smile.

Along with being himself onstage as an entertainer, Roberts will also include a casual segment where he dishes with Claassen about his life backstage and in the spotlight. He'll be letting down his hair, in more ways than one. Now that is something the real Cher would never do.

This Winter Wonderland Holiday Cabaret continues next week at Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave. Here is the schedule:

Dec. 11-12, 8 p.m.; Dec. 13, 3 p.m. - Randy Roberts Live! Coming straight from Key West! A world renowned female illusionist recreates the magic of Cher, Bette Midler, and others.

Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. - The Boone Family meets the “Craig Sistahs” when trombonist Rob Boone, harpist Christine Vivona, and their sons Jesse and Corey share the stage with Betty Craig and Betsy Kruse Craig.

Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m. - Armen Dirtadian, Daniel “Sly” Slipetsky and special guest Michelle Brourman present Broadway favorites, American standards, original compositions and all that jazz!

Dec. 19, 8 p.m. - Original Wildcat Jass Band! Traditional New Orleans and Chicago jazz.

Dec. 19, 2 p.m. - “Kiddy Kabaret” With Suz Claassen, Betsy Kruse Craig and the Boone Family! Music, fun and stories for the whole family!! Tickets $10.00.

Tickets for all the shows (except 'Kiddy Kabaret') are: $22 general admission! 3 Event Sampler $60, 5 Show Holiday Special $ 100. For details and reservations (520) 882- 9721 or