It's holiday music with a twist.
"Cool Yule, a Christmas Cabaret" will be presented Dec. 18-20 at the Lucas Theatre. Seating is limited to 150 guests, so early reservations are advised.
Singers Roger Moss, Trae Gurley, Natasha Drena and Cecilia Arango will present carols and holiday jazz to the accompaniment of pianist Jared Hall.
The Christmas cabaret will be Arango's first performance as a member of the OnStage Cabaret musical troupe. She performed as a guest singer in two prior cabaret performances.
"Last year, auditions were held to be featured as guest singers," Arango says. "I was selected to perform in the Sondheim cabaret, in which I sang 'Losing My Mind' from 'Follies.'
"It was a great experience working with OnStage regulars Natasha Drena and Roger Moss. They were very welcoming and made me feel right at home.
"This past summer, the Lucas collaborated with the Bay Street Theatre and we sang hit numbers from musicals performed at Bay Street," she says. "We performed songs from past shows that included 'Cabaret,' 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Avenue Q,' 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' and more. We even gave a little teaser of our summer's hit musical, 'Chicago.'"
Arango is looking forward to her first turn as a regular.
"I get to sing with the powerhouses that include Natasha Drena, Trae Gurley and Roger Moss, along with Jared Hall, who'll be tickling the ivories as we jazz and croon away your favorite holiday melodies," Arango says. "In addition to the Christmas cabaret, I'm looking forward to this summer's cabaret season."
In the Christmas cabaret, Arango has several numbers.
"Songs include 'The Christmas Song,' 'Santa Baby' and my favorite, 'I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,'" she says. "I have a duet with Trae singing 'Baby It's Cold Outside' and also a few group numbers with everyone."
In addition to OnStage, Arango is active in the local theater scene.
"I've always loved performing," she says. "Whether it was me at 5 years old in my tutu on stage singing along and tapping my feet to 'Rockin' Robin,' to singing the 'Ave Maria' with perfectly rounded vowels at the high school all-state concert, to singing the national anthem every Saturday morning to kick off Savannah's indoor soccer team, the Savannah Rugrats, games.
"Singing is one of my passions. I discovered theater in high school and dabbled in both theater and choir in college.
"I ended up majoring in English communications," Arango says. "I took a break from everything when I started a family and recently, in the past four to five years or so, jumped back into the world of musical theater. At one time, I even fronted a punk and rock band, CeeCee and the Creeps."
By day, Arango is the marketing manager for Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. and the mother of two, a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old.
"I've been here for 13 years," she says. "In addition, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, before I even kick off my work day, you'll see me with a group of runners adorned in head lamps or blinking lights running the streets as I coach for Fleet Feet Sports."
Currently, Arango is deep into preparations for the upcoming performance.
"I have a play list titled 'Cool Yule' on my iPhone and I listen to it on the regular - on my ride to work, my ride home and sporadically throughout the work day," she says. "It also helps me get into the holiday spirit.
"I spend an hour or so looking at my music before I go to bed. We've had a few group rehearsals to learn the music to get into our groove and feel for the show."
Arango says she's "fallen head over heels" with all the characters she's played.
"I guess if I have to pick one, it'd be Velma Kelly from 'Chicago' just because I love 'Chicago's' musical score and it was one of my bucket list dream shows," she says. "To be able to play the one role I've always dreamed of is a feeling like no other."
People should get into the holiday spirit by taking in the annual Christmas cabaret, Arango says.
"You will embrace a unique entertainment experience, as it's a completely different setting than any other show in Savannah," she says. "The Lucas transforms its stage into an intimate setting with cocktail tables, love seats and seating so that the audience and performers both share the stage.
"Tickets are only $25, so it's a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy a great performance of some of your favorite Christmas classics, while enjoying a stocked bar and light hors d'oeuvres," Arango says. "There will also be a few Johnny Mercer songs performed at the show, so that's always a treat."
Gurley sang in an early Christmas cabaret.
"David Harris originally brought up the idea with me," he says. "We had a better response than I think we thought we would.
"For this one, we put together a nice mix of Christmas tunes. We're going to have some Johnny Mercer tunes for hometown fans.
"We'll do some well-known Christmas songs, although not in the vein of 'Jingle Bells,'" Gurley says. "These are other Christmas songs people don't necessarily think of at Christmas."
The show is family friendly.
"The show is not just for adults, although we will have light hors d' ouevres," Gurley says. "It's a nice cabaret setting."
The staging is especially good for performers, Gurley says.
"If you're doing a normal gig or even if you're doing a big stage show, this is what a stage performer really loves," he says. "Having the audience right in front you is almost like performing in a black box theater.
"We don't get the fourth wall of separation that you normally feel on a big stage," Gurley says. "It's interactive. We make it personal."
Gurley has sung semi-professionally for nearly 20 years.
"I started doing this in high school and got pretty serious in my 20s," he says. "I'm the only performer in my family, although I recall my grandmother played piano. I have her piano in my house now."
In high school, Gurley joined chorus because his friend was in the chorus.
"The teacher heard me one day and asked me to audition for the school musical," he says. "I got the lead role. It was something I didn't know I could do.
"I do enjoy the performing aspect. What I really like about the cabaret series is that when I'm working with someone like Roger and Natasha, it makes me strive to do my best.
"It's always nice to work with different people because it keeps you on your toes," Gurley says. "I'm always trying to hone my craft."
The first time he performed with Moss was a highlight for Gurley.
"That was the first time I performed on the Lucas stage," he says. "Then I got to do the cabaret series in 'An Evening with Trae Gurley.'
"I thought 20 of my friends would turn up, but we sold out," Gurley says. "I sold my own show out at the Lucas Theatre and saw my name in lights. It was something I never thought I'd see."