Jarrod Spector, a Tony nominee for Beautiful, and Kelli Barrett, one of Wicked's Nessarose, have been making beautiful music together for over a decade. The pair met working on a show together and were married in 2014. Their showmance is just one of the stories they share in their Studio 59 cabaret show at Bloomingdale's November 17.
Spector and Barrett are kicking off the series of five cabaret concerts at the famous east side department store. Partnering with Broadway Cares, Bloomingdale's American Express exclusive series will run through December. Upcoming concerts include Telly Leung December 1, followed by Jenn Colella December 8, Jay Armstrong Johnson December 15, and finally Jelani Remy December 22.
Playbill asked Spector and Barrett about what audiences can expect from their Bloomingdale's Best Holiday Ever show.
How do you approach building a cabaret show? Do you start with story/songs/themes?
Spector and Barrett: Each show is different. Sometimes it's as simple as, "This is a show I'd want to see." Other times, we get a job that wants a romance theme or stories from our careers and we tailor it accordingly. One thing we always try to do when building any show, whether our own or a client's (through our concert agency, Full Circle Artists), is to find the Venn diagram of what we want to do and what the audience wants to experience. It's very important to us to put on fun shows with thoughtful takeaways.
What can audiences expect from this show?
Spector and Barrett: When we were asked to be a part of this event to benefit Broadway Cares at Bloomingdale's, and during the holidays no less, the show kind of wrote itself. This is because our real friendship began on Christmas Eve of 2010. So, the audience can expect to hear about how we got together set against a very New York-at-the-holidays When Harry Met Sally backdrop with songs they love.
What will audiences learn about you that they didn’t know before?
Spector and Barrett: The aforementioned story of how we got together, for one, plus some insider tales of Broadway hits (and not-so-hits). And while, of course, we'll cover the warm and fuzzy holiday stuff, we don't shy away from the reality that holidays can also be tricky for so many.
Is there a number in this show that is particularly special to you? Why?
Barrett: The duet "I'll Take Good Care of You." It was a song that Jarrod and I actually rallied to have put into the show we met doing. It's become a bit of an anthem for our own relationship.
How do you get over the nervousness of telling your personal stories onstage?
Spector: For whatever reason, that perhaps I should tackle with a therapist, I don't actually get nervous telling personal stories onstage. For one, since they're my stories, I can't exactly forget my lines, so that takes away half of what I worry about in performance. And also the audience is legitimately there to listen. If ever I worry that I'm oversharing or overstaying my welcome, I remember that when I'm the one in the audience, it is a genuine privilege to be entrusted with the performer's vulnerability.
Barrett: I think it's just repetition. We've been fortunate enough to travel the world doing this over the past seven years with the many shows we've created. Now, the "open book" of it all feels second nature. Plus, it's exhilarating when you put your raw truth out there and find it's meaningful to someone else. And trust us, we don't hold back in that way. We will air our laundry, lol.
Tell us about your first memory performing.
Barrett: Kindergarten. I played a "camper" singing about a bear around a campfire. That's all the context I have, but I'll never forget the fake paper flames and the cowboy hat sliding down over my eyes the whole time while I belted my solo for Jesus. Jarrod's story is much cooler....
Spector: This is online! I was 2 1/2, and I sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on the Al Alberts Showcase, a local Philadelphia-area variety show that aired on weekend mornings. The hair, the lisp...it's worth watching. [Playbill: We couldn't find "Yankee Doodle Dandy," but here's 3-year-old Spector singing with Santa on the showcase.]
Barrett: And shortly after, you should Youtube his turn on Star Search. [Playbill: We did.]
Who is your dream duet partner and what is the song?
Spector: Hmm, dream partner...dream partner...I dunno. I got nothing.
Barrett: Don't look at me.
For more details on Bloomingdale's "Best Holiday Ever," visit Bloomingdales.com or on Instagram @Bloomingdales.