Jazz and show tunes will highlight “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered,” a cabaret style show June 8 at St. James the Less Church, featuring Dakota Martin and Keiji Ishiguri. Martin, who is the office manager at the church, along with Cheryl Smith, the nursery school director, will turn the church’s parish hall into a jazzy nightclub with a piano in the center and as many tables as they can fit around it. Food, wine and desserts donated by parishioners will be served throughout the show, making the atmosphere almost like a dinner theater.
The idea for the show came from Martin’s grandmother, who used to love the network television show “American Idol.” While staying at her grandmother’s house, Martin would watch contestants sing American Songbook classics; she was reintroduced to those songs in college, while also learning the history and stories behind them.
The show at St James the Less begins at 7 p.m. and will be done in three sections of 20 minutes, with storytelling and jokes sprinkled in between.
Martin, a Yonkers native, has her own production company, Chill Bucket Productions, based in Scarsdale, with a partner, Jeff Rocco, who is currently based in Seattle. Dakota received her B.F.A. in musical theater from Manhattanville College, where she met other music graduates who joined her band, D3P Jazz. With a love of ’30s and ’40s style of music, Martin has a hand in everything from directing, managing, writing to acting, teaching and singing.
“If you’re a performer you have to be a little bit of everything,” Martin said, “but I love the community experience it offers me.”
Ishiguri grew up in Scarsdale and is a graduate of Yale University. He is now a pianist, singer, music director, arranger, vocal coach and teacher. He is also a founding member and director of On The Quays, a production company devoted to cross-cultural theater and film. His family still attends St. James the Less, and his concert series for OTQ — “How About Love” — recently came to the church for a performance.
Martin and Ishiguri have worked together before, so they know they have a wonderful chemistry when performing.
“He is so good at getting a feel of a song,” said Martin, describing how he changed an American songbook classic into a blues song, giving it a whole new life. “It’s really a creative collaboration.”
The two performers are excited about the show, especially since they are so involved in the church itself. Martin believes that having parishioners perform will encourage more of the congregation to come and support the show.
“Dakota Martin clearly loves the music she sings. Every tune is delivered with heart and often humor. And her voice is fantastic,” said Geoff Loftus, a St. James parishioner. “Keiji Ishiguri is a perfect teammate. His [accompaniment] matches the emotional intention of Miss Martin’s singing.”
They said the show itself will be about love, and how love can make people feel bewitched, bothered, bewildered, or all three at once.
Last year the church’s cabaret program sold out, so Martin encourages people to buy tickets in advance at stjamesscarsdale.org or by calling 723-6100. General admission is $75, discounted to $50 for seniors or anyone under 35.
St. James the Less is located at 10 Church Lane. Proceeds raised at this performance will support St. James’ outreach work with charities such as Midnight Run and The Children’s Village.