'Let's give Columbia something brand new'

"Cabaret," the Broadway in Columbia musical that had a recent two-day run at the Koger Center, was a stage production with bells and whistles. At the "NYC Cabaret Comes to Columbia" shows at Trustus Theatre, the whistles will come from the audience.

As for the bells, we'll leave that to the solo performers on the theater's stage. The first "NYC Cabaret" show, featuring Marjorie Barnes, is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Barnes will be accompanied by The Dick Goodwin Trio; the dance duo Wideman/Davis will open the show.

This performance will have an ambiance atypical to this city's nightlife.

"Let's give Columbia something brand new," said organizer Gillian Albrecht, the ex-Broadway performer. "Let's bring new people to Columbia."

Albrecht, who performed in the original production of the Broadway smash "A Chorus Line," has also worked with Sammy Davis Jr. and legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. As a performer in Europe, she starred as Anita in the Hamburg Ballet's production of "West Side Story."

"My number stopped the show back then," Albrecht, who speaks with eloquence and verve, said.

Too bad she isn't performing.

Cabaret is a form of entertainment that features a combination of performance genres such as comedy, song, dance and theater.

"It's more about the personalities on stage," Albrecht said. "They stand alone," unlike like an actor in a play or musical.

Albrecht moved to Columbia in the summer of 2006. Her husband is USC's chief of infectious diseases. Albrecht was introduced to Trustus by Patricia Moore Pastides, wife of USC's president Harris Pastides.

"We became great friends," Albrecht said. "She invited me to a couple of Trustus events."

For Trustus' 25th anniversary, which the theater is celebrating this season, Albrecht wanted to do something cutting-edge. She said Trustus, with its bar and comfortable seats, was a great theater for a cabaret.

"I'm an idea person. I don't perform anymore, but I am creative," she said. "It's a platform for new and different ideas."

The lineup is impressive. Barnes, who has performed on stages from Broadway to Europe, is a vocalist who can bop between symphonies and trios. And Goodwin, a composer and musician, leads a fine working band.

On March 3, Cait Doyle, the 2009 Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) winner for outstanding debut, will perform. She's a vivid storyteller who incorporates a recent communication tool: the text message. On April 13, Columbia native Jonathan Whitton, the 2008 MAC winner for outstanding debut, will perform. He won the 2009 MAC for best male vocalist.

The final performer in the series will be Molly Pope on May 12. In 2008, Time Out New York voted Pope as one of the city's top cabaret acts. Pianist Tom Beard will accompany Doyle, Whitton and Pope on a grand piano donated by Jeff Tanner, owner of Virtuoso Piano Sales & Service, who will deliver and tune the pianos.

That an impressive lineup for the series' debut.

"I don't do anything halfway," Albrecht said. "I just do things, so I got into it."

That sounds like something to whistle for.

Trustus is at 520 Lady St. $30 in advance, $35 at the door or $110 for the four shows; (803) 254-9732

The Sandlapper Singers' final "American Places" series concert is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dreher High School. The songs will take the audience from coast to coast. The Richland Northeast High School Performing Arts Center Orchestra will accompany the singers. Dreher is at 3319 Millwood Avenue. $5 to $15; or (803) 381-5481

The Festival of Choirs at St. Peter's Catholic Church will be held at 4 today. The choruses of Spring Valley High School and Dreher High School, as well as the Coker College Singers and the Columbia Choral Society will perform. St. Peters is at 1529 Assembly St. $10 to $12; (803) 933-9060 or

Who knew the Columbia Museum of Art would be the place to take a date on Valentine's Day? Here's what's going on:

- The Baker & Baker Art of Music series will feature a program titled "The Viola d'amore: Thomas Georgi and Friends." The performance will be held in the museum's baroque gallery. $5 and $7. Reservations are required for the 3 p.m. show.

- Chinese New Year Celebration. From noon to 3 p.m., the year of the tiger will be celebrated.

- At 1 p.m., "Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance," a film about black artists working in the '20s and '30s, will be screened.

- At 2 p.m., there will be a free gallery tour of "The Chemistry of Color."

The museum is at Main and Hampton streets. Admission is free on Sundays. For more information, call (803) 799-2810.

Claudia Smith Brinson, a journalist for 30 years and now a senior lecturer in English at Columbia College, will discuss in-depth reporting and read excerpts from her work Thursday as Columbia College's Maxwell Guest Writer. The 7 p.m. reading and talk will be held in the Breed Leadership Center, 201-202, is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Brinson, who left The State newspaper in 2007 to direct the advanced writing track at Columbia College, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist with her State newspaper colleagues for Hurricane Hugo coverage. The reading will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Brinson invites discussion on the shift from print newspapers and magazines to digital media. A reception will follow at 8 p.m.

The Breed Leadership Center is on Columbia College Drive. Free parking is available in Lot A, at the intersection of Columbia College Drive and Colonial Drive.

The USC Symphony Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Koger Center. The repertoire will include Dvorak and Brahms. The orchestra will be led by guest conductor Nicola Giuliani. Violinist Angelia Cho, originally from Columbia, will perform with the orchestra on the Dvorak piece. The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $8 to $25; (803) 251-2222

ART+Cayce will exhibit work by Josh Drews, a printmaker who specializes in monotypes. Drews teaches visual arts at Spring Valley High School. The show opens at 6 p.m. Thursday. Drews will offer a gallery talk at 7 p.m. The show will run through March 18. ART+Cayce is at 1329 State St., Cayce. For more information, call (803) 765-0838

Jason Ajemian, a bassist with expressive and deconstructed tones, will perform a solo show at 701 Center for Contemporary Art at 8 p.m. Thursday. Ajemian will also add voice to the performance. His voice is haunting, like a shadow moving through an abandoned building. The movement - musically and vocally - is something to behold. 701 CCA is at 701 Whaley St. $4 to $5; or (803) 238-2351