REVIEW: Eleri Ward at The Cabaret in Indianapolis

Eleri Ward at The Cabaret

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I’m back with another concert review! I see a lot of different shows and concerts, so I figured it was about time I started sharing my thoughts on them on a more regular basis, so here we go!

If you’ve never been to The Cabaret in downtown Indianapolis, you are truly missing out. Not only do we have ambiance and a great menu, but the entertainment is also always fantastic! The staff at The Cabaret curates an experience that brings together international acts, jazz musicians, Broadway performers, and sometimes a few other random people! For example – last season, they had NPR host Ari Shapiro performing with Alan Cumming – what? I’m not entirely sure, but it was a great evening.

Earlier this month, I was delighted to see the final performance of Eleri Ward’s The Tender Tour. If you’ve been on #musicaltheatretok at all, it’s likely you’ve seen her or heard about her. I’ll link some other articles about her work below, but the TLDR is this – she started covering Stephen Sondheim songs on guitar, making social media videos and then recording an album. That’s the gist.

At The Cabaret, we were treated to two Ball State University student performances to start the evening. However, once Eleri Ward came onstage in her all-black outfit, I felt the vibe shift – in all the good ways.

Split into two acts, Ward played a variety of Stephen Sondheim songs all on her own – just her and the guitar. For people not so attuned to the Sondheim canon, they might just think she’s a folk singer (a la Joni Mitchell) or something, but the true musical theatre people like me (and A LOT of the audience that night), got to hear songs performed in a whole new way.

Some of my favorite highlights included her spins on “Johanna” from the musical Sweeney Todd, anything from the musical Company (especially “Marry Me a Little” & “Sorry Grateful”), and everything from Sunday in the Park with George. “Sunday,” while singing about all the colors in the painting, was one of my favorite musical moments of her show.

I also loved all the stories she shared between her songs, like the one she shared about her dream of playing peek-a-boo with Stephen Sondheim. I was also touched by the story she shared about learning the music to Company for the first time and how she was fascinated with how all of the parts and moments came together – and if you’ve ever seen or done that show, you know exactly why one is fascinated. And my favorite, seeing her light up and be overwhelmed that she’d accomplished her first solo tour! The last stop of her tour was here in Indianapolis at The Cabaret!

As this was her first solo tour, I can only imagine what future tours will look like for her! If you get the chance to see her live, I’d highly recommend it. If not, check out some of my links below!

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