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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It’s not often that a newspaper plays a starring role in a song-and-dance performance, but when Bellingham Music Club’s annual cabaret show makes its way to the Firehouse Arts and Events Center this weekend, it will be with the city’s daily paper in the spotlight.

From Oct. 4-6, Hark! The Herald Headlines Sing will mix music, theatrical elements and songs inspired by stories, ads, sports stats, comics and obituaries culled from the Bellingham Herald—which, like the Bellingham Music Club itself, has more than a 100-year history in Whatcom County.

And, as is typical with BMC cabarets that have come before—such as A Swell Party with Cole Porter (2015), Broadway Takes on Politics (2016), and last year’s Bellingham Burlesque of 1927—classic songs will be combined with an engaging storyline to showcase the prodigious talents of local actors and musicians, including Martha Benedict, Akilah Williams, Martin Bray, Amanda Carpp, and Paul Henderson II.

According to co-writer and musical director Scott Henderson, content from the Herald helps sets the scene for each song and sketch, with the curtain rising on a Monday morning and ending after a week of editions has provided enough fodder for the capable cast to captivate the audience.

When the week starts, five people are beginning their day by gleaning details from their favorite parts of the newspaper, with Benedict seeking celestial advice from the horoscopes before singing a mutually adoring duet with her Ouija board in the High Spirits song “Talking to You.” Meanwhile, others are looking for guidance from the stock reports (“A.B.C.” and “Wall Street), placing personal ads (“Boy Wanted”), giving voice to the heartbreaking sale of a piano (“A Classified Ad”), and feverishly clipping coupons (“Be Careful What You Eat”).

Among other things, audiences will also find out what happens when a bright-yellow canary reads the front pages located inside his birdcage, witness he-said, she-said viewpoints sourced from engagement and wedding announcements, and see a widow with mixed emotions come to terms with her grief. Additionally, real estate and job listings will come into play, as will competitive sports as metaphors for love, crossword puzzles, Sunday-morning comics, and more.

“The show closes with the poignant ‘Laughing Matters,’ from When Pigs Fly,” Henderson says. “It sums up the show’s theme that despite the weighty and often distressing news we consume every day, ‘Keep your humor, please, ‘cause don’t you know it’s time like these that laughing matters most of all.’”

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