Gabianelli revives music from the golden age of Hollywood |

Gabianelli revives music from the golden age of Hollywood

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What: Diva Cabaret: ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams; The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen’

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

Where: Thunder River Theatre Company, 67 Promenade, Carbondale

Tickets: TRTC Box Office: 970-963-8200 or

Nina Gabianelli is out to prove that life is, indeed, a cabaret with her new show, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams; The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen,” premiering this Monday and Tuesday at the Thunder River Theatre Company.

The shows are the most recent incarnation of the “Diva Cabaret” series created by Gabianelli and TRTC director Corey Simpson that first introduced the intimate musical storytelling genre to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2017.

Gabianelli worked the cabaret circuit in New York City over two decades ago, and said she was excited for the opportunity to get back to her roots.

“It’s the breaking of the fourth wall [between performer and audience] and more of a sharing,” she said “You’re not presenting to people, you’re presenting with people — you’re having a conversation.

“I’m able to create a story I want to tell using songs.”

The new show focuses on the music of Jimmy Van Heusen — an unfamiliar name to most who nonetheless was a giant in the golden age of Hollywood movie musicals during the 1940s and ’50s.

“I’ve been a fan of his music ever since college in the 1980s,” Gabianelli said. “Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra recorded dozens of his songs. He wrote five musicals. He wrote the music to over 220 films. His work is quite prolific.

“He’s a composer whose music is known, but his story is not necessarily known. So I kind of wanted to delve into his story and why that was — why he wasn’t a household name.”

Some of Van Heusen’s upbeat songs Gabianelli said she’ll cover in the show include “Love and Marriage,” “Would You Like to Swing on a Star” and “High Hopes.” She’ll also lend her instrument to popular Van Heusen ballads including “Imagination,” “Call Me Irresponsible” and “All The Way.”

David Dyer is the musical director and accompanist for the show, and he and Gabianelli collaborated on the selecting of songs and working out their arrangements.

“David has the musician skills,” Gabianelli said. “We had quite a bit of music that we had to cull down to a one hour show. It was a journey. You start with all the songs you want to do and then you end up only being able to do a few of those.”

In 2017, Dyer and Gabianelli created the show, “Here I Am” that they toured in cities across the country, culminating in a “standing room only” performance at Don’t Tell Mama in New York City. Gabianelli said she’d love to do the same thing with the new show.

“’Here I Am’ was a very personal story, a little more heart-wrenching, while this one is a little more commercially, universally accepted,” she said. “I would hope to take this show to other communities and do it for a while.

“You spend a lot of time getting up close and personal with the show, so I don’t want to just do two nights and walk away from it.”

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