Cocktails and Cabaret Goes Virtual

Annette Bening will give a prerecorded address to people attending Cocktails and Cabaret. The four-time Academy Award nominee has starred in such films as “The Grifters,” “American Beauty” and “Being Julia.”

Like many cultural organizations, Iowa Stage Theatre Company is taking its annual fundraising gala—Cocktails and Cabaret—online, but that doesn’t mean it’s dialing back any of the excitement. To wit: Hollywood A-lister Annette Bening will greet the crowd at the Sept. 12 livestreamed event, followed by a conversation with, and a performance by, well-known Broadway actor and singer Roosevelt A. Credit, who’s appeared in such shows as “Porgy and Bess” and “Show Boat.”

The $125 ticket, available through the Iowa Stage website here, includes two cocktails, dinner and dessert in a take-home pack that can be picked up at the Conservatory in the East Village before the 7 p.m. event. There also will be a wine raffle and silent online auction, along with a conversation with Broadway performers Laura Osnes and Timothy Shew.

And just how did Iowa Stage get such a high-wattage star like Bening? Turns out she’s a second cousin of Richard Maynard, a highly regarded and versatile Iowa Stage actor who is perhaps most well-known for playing Ebenezer Scrooge in the company’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Iowa Stage’s fall season will be virtual as well, according to Matthew McIver, the company’s artistic director, starting with a reading of a new adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” by local playwright and actor Kerry Skram that’s set in the era of “Downton Abbey.” That will be followed by a livestreamed performance of “Tuesdays With Morrie” in October and “It’s a Wonderful Life” in December. Details of the season will be announced at Cocktails and Cabaret.

“Obviously, we’re living in a very different time now, and we have to find ways to keep artists and audiences engaged, even if they can’t be in the same room,” McIver says.

“We’re continuing to find a way forward,” he adds. “As human beings, it’s important for us to stay artistically fulfilled and connected with one another and the community.”

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