You'd never know it, but beltress Jenn Colella says she still gets nervous every single time she does a cabaret show. The Broadway pro and Tony nominee for Come From Away is keeping her energy positive today, though, as she's set to perform tonight at Bloomingdale's Studio 59 Best Holiday Ever cabaret series.
Partnering with Broadway Cares, Bloomingdale's American Express exclusive series will run through December at the famous east side flagship department store. Colella's December 8 cabaret is the third concert in the series of five. Bloomingdale's will present Jay Armstrong Johnson December 15 and Jelani Remy December 22. Previous artists in the series include married couple Jarrod Spector and Kelli Barrett, and Telly Leung.
Playbill asked Colella about what audiences can expect from her Bloomingdale's Best Holiday Ever show.
How do you approach building a cabaret show? Do you start with story/songs/themes?
Jenn Colella: I always start with the songs. Once I have my set, I then attempt to link them together with personal stories. But I don’t script the dialogue in a rigid way. I need to vibe with the audience to feel where they are and I go from there. There’s a lot of improv in my shows.
What can audiences expect from this show?
Audiences can expect a concert that hopefully feels like we’re all hanging out in my living room and I just happen to sing some songs you dig. I’ve got musical theatre classics, standards, rock n’ roll, and my all-time favorite holiday song to share.
What will audiences learn about you that they didn’t know before?
There’s something about a cabaret that opens me up. I go in deciding to completely trust the audience and so I confide quite a bit of what’s in my heart. Hopefully the audience will learn more about what makes me Jenn Colella the person, not just the performer.
Is there a number in this show that is particularly special to you? And why?
Why? Ah! That’s a tough one. Every song I choose carries a special meaning. But if I had to choose…I’ve got one song that I dedicate to my wife, Mo. I’ve never spoken of my love life on stage before, but falling for her has changed all of that.
How do you get over the nervousness of telling your personal stories onstage?
I don’t! I’m nervous every single time. That’s part of what makes a cabaret so special. It’s personal and there’s no getting around that. My strategy is to stay connected to my breath as I keep the voice in my head positive and genuinely encouraging. It’s definitely a practice.
Tell us about your first memory performing.
I was cast as The Auctioneer in a musical called “The Small One” in the 4th grade. I was such a little peanut that the mic was the length of my torso and I had to stand on a box to be seen. I remember looking out at the audience and seeing my mom’s proud face beaming up at me. The light in her eyes was the spark that ignited my love for performing.
For more details on Bloomingdale's "Best Holiday Ever," visit Bloomingdales.com or on Instagram @Bloomingdales.