Big-city singer tells her story in ‘PC Girl Cabaret’
When singer, dancer and producer Ellie Gallagher thinks of live theater, she thinks of celebrating life.
“I also think of giving back the same joy I feel doing the performances with the audience,” Gallagher said. “I feel it’s a special gift when someone is touched emotionally or taken away from whatever is going on in their lives for just a few hours because of something I do.”
Gallagher is ready to give more back with her new production, “PC Girl Cabaret,” which will open for one night at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 13, at Downstairs, 625 Main St.
The production is an autobiographical account of Gallagher’s experience living in Park City for the past 20 years.
“I’m a Broadway, big-city girl who lives in a mountain town,” she said. “That’s the inspiration. So the idea is to show people who come to the show that it isn’t where you come from and where you live that defines you. Those things may shape your life, but they don’t make you who you are.”
Monday’s performance is like a test run, Gallagher said.
“Monday is a soft opening during the offseason because I want to perform this for tourists during next ski season,” she said. “I have also invited concierges from all over town to come see the show and give me feedback, because the idea is to do a weekly show in the wintertime, and I want to make sure this is something the concierge would feel confident in sending their guests to see.”
Gallagher also wants to introduce people to a cabaret show that is different than burlesque.
While burlesque is defined as a variety show that typically includes sensual dialog and dances, a cabaret show is more of a floor show that is seen in a nightclub or restaurant.
“The performance I will do is a classy, sexy Broadway-style musical that gives people a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Park City,” she said. “It’s fun and playful.”
“PC Girl Cabaret” is also sponsored by the Utah Conservatory.
Conservatory co-founder Debra Cook is the accompanist, and the production will feature singer and dancers Andrew Taula, Anne Considine-Olson and dancer Cameron Aragon.
“The singers and dancers are semi-professional and professional performers from around the state,” Gallagher said. “There are so many performers working in Utah, and this show gives professionals an opportunity to perform without committing to an entire run of a show.”
Another reason Gallagher decided to produce and present “PC Girl Cabaret” is because there is nothing like it in Park City.
“We have some fun performances at the Egyptian Theatre, and I’ve performed many musical theater and other productions there, but it’s a theater,” she said. “That’s why I decided to do it at Downstairs, which has a speakeasy feel. You’re going to break the fourth wall quite a bit more, because the audience becomes part of the story you tell.”
Gallagher said the story wrote itself.
“One day I went on a hike and this tale was just spinning around in my mind,” she said. “It’s the irony of living in Park City for so long and not really fitting into the Park City girl stereotype.”
She selected the songs that would highlight that theme.
“I had a few of them in my mind, and they all told this same story,” she said. “Interestingly, the last song of the production comes from the musical, ‘The Color Purple.’ It’s called ‘I’m Here,’ and that sums up the theme and the arc of the show.”
Gallagher fell in love with theater as a child.
“My style of Broadway singing is very much like Liza Minnelli, and people have told me that I do sound like her,” she said. “I’ve done some cabaret work, and it was my niche. It was where I found my voice fit best and my character worked well.”
Gallagher, whose day job is being the dual-language immersion specialist at the Wasatch County School District, majored in theater at Emerson College in Boston, before switching to Boston College.
“While I still studied acting, I majored in education,” she said. “But theater speaks to me and other types of creative beings because you are given a blank canvas to create a story. You can speak a truth that comes from yourself.”
Gallagher also likes how theater touches people differently.
“One of the things that is exciting about ‘PC Girl Cabaret’ is that I can sing a song from a Broadway show, and while that song has its own purpose in the lyric and music with the show, if you take it out of context, the song can mean six different things,” she said.
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