Cranky Cabaret

Kris Holtz & Jessica Lyn Morris - Musical Theater

"I always tell people in this business; if there's anything else on earth that would make you happy or even kind of happy or even not suicidal, please for the love of God do that."

"If you have an idea, if you have the ability to create your own work, you need to do that. Get yourself out of the rat race."

The first interview Team Art As Air did for our project was this one with Cranky Cabaret co-founders and producers Kris Holtz and Jessica Lyn Morris. Their show is brilliant and refreshing in that it voices our general discontent with the human condition in a non-politically correct manner that resonates with the packed audiences in a “real” way. It actually sets out to offend, but rarely does. Kris and Jessica are not only passionate about what they create, but their mentoring and nurturing of others in the business of theater that is traditionally known to be a revolving door of broken dreams has become the stuff of legend in their community.

“If you’ve gotta do it and you know you’re that person, you can’t help it; it’s a really really hard life. Most people disappear. We watch them disappear the first year or two after school because they go ‘I didn’t know it was going to be like this.’

When you’re doing a catering job, you see these stable wealthy people with kids and husbands and cars and things, and they go to the same little gray box that they sit in every single day, but they have money and comfort. Do you want that life? No. We can’t complain about our unstable lives, because we chose it, although we say it chose us. Regular people do not understand. If you’ve got a choice, then you’re not doing this.

We have ‘standing O’ moments, maybe once or twice in our 14 hour rehearsal day, where someone comes in with a thing and we don’t know how we’re going to save it. I stick my head in my computer and I trust Kris and our piano player and our MC and somebody is going to find a miracle in there. Somebody’s gotta shit out an idea right damn now to try to save this muthafukah. Then it happens, and that person is practically crying, sometimes actually crying. Your whole body opens up emotionally and you discover something about yourself. We’re crying because we just saved something which was going to kill our show. Then we’re on our feet, because the performer was brave. A lot of courage happens in that room. So much so that when I say rehearsal is the best part, it’s just something we can’t explain to anybody.

Life is not a Hallmark card, and the best stuff has some claws and teeth to it, no matter what it is. People are going to dislike us. Let’s face it, ‘Cranky Cabaret;’ it’s designed to be crass and crude and to offend. It’s supposed to be chock full of offensive stuff, so when you’ve got a show chock full of offensive things, you’re going to offend someone. It’s gonna happen. That’s OK.

If you’re doing your job in this business whether it’s on the outside or the inside, it’s so deeply personal, if you don’t throw all of that vulnerability into it, you’re going to suck at whatever you do, which means you have to bleed on the floor. Which means you’re pretty open to infection if someone doesn’t like it. Otherwise you’re mediocre. Your first time, you’ll probably make a big mess, and it will kill you. Then you’ll go back to thinking about it afterward, and you’ll learn, hopefully, and you’ll come up with something better next time.”

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