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17
Nov
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Reid Cabaret Theatre
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The Reid Cabaret Theatre Celebrates Five Seasons With Opening of New Lounge

The Reid Cabaret Theatre celebrates its fifth season in 2023 after opening its doors in 2018. The idea for the Reid Cabaret, however, began over 15 years ago, when Casa Mañana President & Executive Producer Wally Jones was at a restaurant in his home state of North Carolina. This particular restaurant had a separate bar area in the back that sat 60 and featured a small stage. Jones, who was Executive Producer at the North Carolina Theatre at the time, was struck with an idea for the unique space.

“I knew the guys who owned the restaurant,” Jones recalled, “and I said, ‘Let’s put a small show in here.’” Once the owners agreed, the team sold tickets to the show combined with a dinner. The event immediately sold out. The first show featured the music of Sam Cooke, the next, a Frank Sinatra tribute – which also sold out.

Jared Weiss in Dylan on Dylan.

Six months later, Wally Jones moved to Texas to lead Casa Mañana, with the success of the supper club-style theatrical experience still fresh in his mind. At the time, New York City’s 54 Below was in the works, along with similar theatres around the country. Jones was passionate about seeing a cabaret theatre come to fruition for Fort Worth audiences, a concept unlike anything the city offered at the time.

“I told the board that we wanted to do this – eventually, somehow, someway.”

In 2017, nearly ten years after Jones moved from Raleigh to Fort Worth, the time was right. Renovations began, and the original box office was turned into a small stage with the lobby space converted into a 70-seat cabaret-style theatre.

“Very simple, easy renovation. Didn’t cost much money at all, kind of a trial balloon,” said Jones. The idea was to test whether the setup resonated with audiences – and the response was immediate. The Reid Cabaret Theatre opened in February 2018 with Michael Cunio headlining.

“Big hit right away,” said Jones. “People like the familiar music, they like the hour and a half timeframe, they like sitting at tables and being able to order a cocktail – they love the intimacy of the whole thing.” The ambiance and nostalgia of the experience often strikes patrons.

“What a wonderful, wonderful place, a great atmosphere,” said one patron during intermission. “[We] love the concept, the cabaret, and the show was wonderful – we’ll come back again.”

Over the last five years, The Reid has presented shows featuring the music of artists like Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. The night not only features incredible music but also gives the audience context behind the hits through compelling storytelling. Jones said that is a key part of the cabaret’s success.

“Our shows are unique because there is a backstory to the actual music. It’s kind of like VH1 Behind the Music, except live,” he said. “We’ve found our little niche – people love the music, but they always say they love the stories behind the music, also.”

Carole J Bufford in Vintage Pop!

Curtis Wiley, a New York resident and Broadway performer, often makes the trip down to Texas to headline shows at the Reid. Wiley dances, exclaims, and calls out to audience-members while on stage – and patrons often ask when he’ll be back.

“I love the audiences and the sense of community that performing at The Reid fosters,” Wiley said. After starring in shows like You Send Me: The Music of Sam Cooke and Christmas with Nat and Natalie, Wiley is joining a quickly growing list of artists who are Reid Cabaret staples.

Curtis Wiley in Christmas with Nat & Natalie.

“Anytime I get to be on stage at The Reid is a gift,” he said of his experiences. “The Reid Cabaret Theatre is home to me.”

Since its opening, shows at The Reid have consistently sold out. In 2022 work was done to expand the space from 70 to 94 seats, adding capacity while maintaining the intimate feel.

Preserving the boutique feel was paramount when looking to the future of the Cabaret.

“Once it got popular, we said we gotta figure out a way to get more people in here, but we also heard people say, ‘Not too many more,’” said Jones.

 

The renovation and expansion of The Reid Cabaret Theatre demonstrates the profound impact the unique space has had on patrons since its opening. The Pin-Up Girls Christmas, the first show in the completed space, played to a sold-out crowd. 

Casa Mañana is thrilled to hold the grand opening of The Reid Cabaret Theatre’s new Lounge on December 14, 2023, at 2pm. Mayor Mattie Parker, along with city council members, supporters and invited guests will attend, with a reception to follow.

The next show in the completed Reid Cabaret Theatre is Christmas in the Movies, which runs November 28 – December 16. Tickets are available at secure.casamanana.org/events/christmasmovies

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