CANMORE – Singing yuletide carols with a twist, Bridget Ryan will be hosting the musical Christmas cabaret Joy to the World to ring in the holiday season.
Creator and performer in the holiday extravaganza, Ryan will be featuring the holly jolly show beginning Tuesday (Dec. 10) to Dec. 22 at the Carter-Ryan Gallery in Canmore.
“Cabaret is an evening of song and story,” Ryan said. “It’s intimate ... it’s taking many songs of different contexts and bringing it to the season. All fourth walls are broken.”
Ryan is a veteran of performing in cabarets, coming to the show with more than 20 years of experience.
“When I graduated from school, I moved straight to New York and discovered my love of cabaret through literally the cabaret houses of off-Broadway,” Ryan said. “I fell in love with the direct address. It’s a mixture of standup comedy and song.”
Ryan said she learned a lot working in New York, adding she came to love how each performance is off-the-cuff and inspired by the moment, the performer's mood and the reactions of the audience.
Ryan described Joy to the World as focused on evoking as much laughter and joy as possible throughout the evening.
This year marks the first time Ryan has hosted a Christmas cabaret and it is her first full run hosting a cabaret since the opening of the gallery in 2012.
“I’m ready for it – I’m Irish, I was born to tell stories,” she said with a grin. “And, I love Christmas.”
Ryan grew up Irish Catholic, she said, and has a favourite character she will be featuring in the show she dubbed “The Church Lady.”
“When I think of Christmas I think of church, so there is a hilarious church melody [in the show].”
Guests can expect to hear Christmas songs and carols, including music numbers that include the audience, Ryan said, along with her favourite songs that have played an important role in her life.
“I wish I could say it wasn’t, but ABBA is one of the greatest influences of my life,” Ryan said with a laugh. “There will be a little bit of ABBA, a little bit of musical theatre … it goes into a whole section of sweet, sweet '80s ballads. It’s kind of got everything in it – all centred around Christmas.”
Piano player Morgan McKee will be accompanying Ryan during the show. Ryan met him watching auditions for the Carter-Ryan show Canada the Musical two summers ago.
“He was this smiley, amazing dude on stage,” Ryan said. “Performers gave him their sheet music and he played it like he had known it for years.”
He is an unbelievable piano player, she said, adding that she is thrilled to be working with him.
However, the best part of performing cabaret is that no two nights are the same.
“It’s like a Christmas party every night. It’s all about how Christmas gives us so much joy,” Ryan said. “By the time you leave, you’ve all experienced something that will never happen again. That’s something I love about cabaret.”
The central theme of the show centres around the joy evoked through music over the holidays.
Ryan said she hopes people will be able to see themselves in the stories and added that cabarets can be a cathartic experience where people can share in the beauty of the season while going on a journey of self-discovery.
Each evening will be filled with surprises, Ryan said, adding that audience members come with open minds and hearts ready to connect and be comfortable with being told a good story.
“This could be a party every night,” Ryan exclaimed. “Let’s make this the best Christmas party.”
Bridget Ryan’s Joy to the World a musical Christmas Cabaret runs from Dec. 10-22 at the Carter-Ryan Gallery and Live Art Venue in Canmore. Each performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 for adults and $25 for students. For more information call 403-621-1000 or visit carter-ryan.com/theatre.