icket sales have been so robust for Cabaret at The Commons that its most recent performance with Broadway star Ramin Karimloo nearly generated a 400-person sellout.
So it seems logical that attendance at the next concert on April 7 hardly would concern Shannon Forsell, who helped make Cabaret at The Commons series a fixture on the local arts scene.
“Are you kidding me?” Forsell said with a laugh, speaking by phone from her office at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, where she serves as executive and artistic director. Through a talent-sharing arrangement, The Columbia Club allows its headline acts also to perform in Columbus.
“Almost every day, I’m asking about ticket sales.”
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She’s not just inquiring as an administrator. Forsell also is the star of the next Columbus event, “Confessions of a Star in Indiana.”
Forsell, 49, well-known in Indy for her jazzy, vocal stylings of a broad variety of music, will bring her 75-minute Broadway-and-more show to The Commons. Her set list will highlight a couple of Hoagy Carmichael tunes included on her release, “Nearness of You: A Tribute to Hoagy Carmichael.” She also promises “gems that I want to be a surprise,” as she put it.
“Maybe they’ve never heard them before,” she said. “Or maybe they will hear them now in a very different way.”
Her last show, “Songs I’ve Never Sung on Broadway,” unfolded in 2011 at the Columbia Club.
The arts outlet has operated in the black the past years under her guidance — significant since the American Cabaret Theatre, also in Indianapolis, swam in $350,000 of debt when she assumed the helm in 2009 before eventually moving shows to the Connoiseur Room and then the Columbia Club.
Others have noticed her streamlined administrative act in a challenging showbiz world. Cabaret leaders in cities such as Detroit have called for insight and advice to shine a spotlight on solid business and solid entertainment.
So how does a woman who performed regularly for years, including gigs with ensembles such as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, feel about now helping others perform their best?
“I can honestly say that I do get as much of artistic joy behind the scenes as I do actually singing.”
Those who know that her Indianapolis high school teachers and others encouraged her to take her vocal talent as far as she could sometimes wonder why she never sang in big-city musical theater, though she did sing at a memorial gathering in New York City on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. This performance offers an answer or two to that question.
“The show is partly about the choices we make in our lives,” she said.
Philharmonic board member Pamela Wells-Lego saw her perform in 2011 at the Columbia Club and loved everything from her music to her classy sex appeal.
“Shannon is really a kind of chameleon,” Wells-Lego said. “She’s absolutely mesmerizing one minute and adorably funny the next.”
Forsell loves to watch technically gifted singers present a cover tune but ideally wants to see them make a song their own and intimately connect with an audience. That explains why she works with artists in her job and sometimes asks a big question meant to help them hit the right emotional note: “Where’s YOU?”
Away from the stage and artistic direction, she listens to a variety of music: U2, Nina Simone, Diane Schuur and Shirley Horn, among others.
She knows that some of her listeners wonder what would have become of her career had she sung on Broadway. A smiling and comic Shannon Forsell gives them a straight answer. She did indeed sing on Broadway.
At 5121 N. Broadway, to be precise. In Indianapolis. In the house of her childhood.
Who: Indianapolis singer Shannon Forsell performing the show, “Confessions of a Star in Indiana,” at the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Cabaret at The Commons series.
When: 7:30 p.m. April 7.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in Columbus.
Tickets: $15, $30 and $50.
Concessions: Full meals and also drinks available.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.