How a Dallas actor is using social media to make lemonade out of a global lemon
The writer TS Eliot once said: “Between the idea and the reality … the shadow falls.” When it comes to the coronavirus and its impact on the arts, local actor Mikey Abrams hasn’t spent a second in the shadows.
On March 18, he launched a Facebook page called Quarantined Cabaret, and in no time he’s seen it spread like cyber wildfire. By Wednesday, the end of its first week, it had reached 24,000 members.
Abrams is a real estate agent who worked as a high school theater teacher for 15 years. His résumé includes appearances on off-Broadway shows in New York City, but in North Texas alone he has worked with Uptown Players, Lyric Stage and Stage West, among others.
Mikey Abrams, founder of Quarantine Cabaret, has appeared on a number of Dallas productions, including Thurston Howell (far right) in the Uptown Players production of Gilligan’s Fire Island.
(Rex C. Curry – Special Contributor)
How exactly did it happen?
“We have a lot of costumes and wigs and everything in the house,” Abrams says, “so I said to my partner, ‘If I’m cooped up, singing and drinking in the house, I should at least have an audience! ‘””
He posted some videos, then friends posted theirs and voila! “In one day,” he says, “it grew to over 4,000 people.”
He even got a call from a woman on Facebook and asked me, “How did you make this grow so fast? This is an extraordinarily fast growing pace. What can we do to help? ‘”
“Since we are quarantining ourselves,” Abrams says, “it was a great way to get our minds off things.” It’s like a variety show, a cabaret show. We had singers, we had people who danced, told jokes, read poems, read books they write. “
What he loves about it, he says, is that its users are “of all ages. And we are now in 35 countries and six continents. Everything except Antarctica. “
He describes his mission as: “How can we support the arts and keep them alive? Because let’s face it, these are the first things to be cut in the post-virus economy. “
Even he was blown away. To give users an idea of how successfully they created the page, he posted a photo of the American Airlines Center to indicate that it has more users than would fit in AAC, which has a capacity of 20,000. As he told them, “Please note that you are performing in front of a larger audience! For me it’s super cool. “
So who is attending? In his words, “Pros from New York, California, England and then we have people who say,” This is my first time ever singing and posting, “and everything is considered the same. The rules are, no one can overthrow someone. “
It has grown so fast that he had to hire outside help to manage his Instagram and Twitter accounts using the hashtag #QuarantinedCabaret. Who knows, Abrams may have stumbled upon what could be the cyber equivalent of American Idol, which in the event of a global pandemic is like making lemonade from a global lemon.
Dallas actor Mikey Abrams launched the Quarantined Cabaret Facebook page in response to the coronavirus. (Brad Jackson / Courtesy Mikey Abrams)
Jennifer Scripps, director of the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, welcomes quarantine cabaret, among other things, the growth of which she described as breathtaking.
“I think it’s incredible!” She says. “I think it’s the classic example of ingenuity and our deep need to be entertained and to entertain others and to share our talents. This could be one of our memories in the future. I am already thinking, “How will my children, my husband and I remember that time we are going through?” ”
After all, she adds with a laugh, it can’t just be memories of “watching Netflix. That won’t be noticed. Please give me something more provocative. “Her own favorite is a woman who sings opera with strands of toilet paper as a kind of makeshift crown on her head. By Wednesday this alone had almost 300,000 views.
As another shining example, Scripps praised the recent online performance of American Mariachi, staged by the Dallas Theater Center.
Efforts like American Mariachi and Quarantined Cabaret “will get more prominent in a year, two years, whatever.”
In other words, as Scripps says, we need these because they will last when the worst is over.
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