My funky Valentine


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As many women are being spoiled with Ghirardelli chocolates and a dozen perfect red roses on Valentine’s Day, Angie Toomsen will light up the stage with songs about shredded love letters and slashed truck tires.

But she doesn’t look at the performance as a holiday burden.

“Lest anyone thinks the revue will kill your Valentine’s Day chocolate buzz, we actually think these songs will be fun — not depressing,” she said.

Toomsen, with four other singers of Dreamwell Theatre, will present a variety of songs during a special one-night event: Down With Love! The “Anti” Valentine’s Day Cabaret at 8 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $6.

When Dreamwell set out to do a Valentine’s Day revue, Toomsen suggested doing something different.

“The lovey-dovey stuff is so in all of our faces,” she said. “What about the other side of love? The pain? The hurt? The boredom with daily routine? The second thoughts? We’ve all been there before, haven’t we? Living to tell about it — and sing about it — is much more interesting than focusing on candy hearts and roses.”

Thus, an evening of heartbreaking, pathetic, neurotic, and devastating songs for cynics and singles.

Five singers from various area performance groups, accompanied by three musicians, will perform a mix of solos, duets, and group numbers. The cabaret will perform an array of material, from country to modern pop to old standards.

“The element [the songs] all have in common is that they are about the dark side of love — love lost and lovers scorned,” performer Kate Thompson said.

Director Josh Sazon said he enjoyed deciding which ballads to perform.

“Part of the fun of doing shows like these is having an excuse to go through different songs — familiarizing yourself with new ones and reacquainting yourself with old ones,” he said. “And love songs, especially these love songs, are pretty good songs.”

The originality of the songs attracted Sazon to Down With Love. Thompson agreed, saying the show gives her the rare opportunity to perform a variety of styles. However, she said, one song interests her more than the others.

“I’m really looking forward to doing Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’ with the delightful Angie Toomsen,” she said.

The singer said she is looking forward to an intimate interaction with the audience, something she feels the Mill stage will allow.

Sazon looks to a different aspect of the venue: the bar.

“When you’re doing an evening of material on broken, shattered, unrequited love, it’s good to have some alcohol close at hand,” he said.

While the 90-minute show is aimed at the pessimistic, Sazon said, he thinks anyone who appreciates good music and has a good sense of humor about love and Valentine’s Day would enjoy the show.
Thompson agreed.

“The performance is intended to give an alternative to other, mushier Valentine’s fare,” she said.

“We’re hoping that both cynical singles and couples with a sense of humor will choose this for their Valentine’s entertainment.”

Despite singing about Cupid’s failed attempts, the performers hope to provide an element of comfort to everyone.

“If you’re single or heartbroken, we offer a little commiseration,” Toomsen said. “And if you’re in a great relationship, you’ll leave feeling grateful you have a valentine to go home with.”

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