This is What If? Productions' second year hosting a holiday piano bar cabaret, and it's going to be festive.
Last year's performance was called Holiday MixTape and was quite the experimental set. It featured a hodgepodge of songs, from traditional carols to obscure oddities.
This time around, there's a more distinct theme as three fierce female vocalists come together for "Carol of the Belles," another eclectic selection of Christmas music, with some non-holiday tunes thrown in for good measure.
One unique aspect of this installment is that the three featured vocalists — Nakeisha Daniel, Becca Anderson and Tiffany Gammell — curated the music themselves to fit their vocal styles and personalities.
"Oftentimes when people think of singers and vocalists, they tend to lean toward rock music and the band scene in Charleston, which is rich with brilliant talent," says What If? Productions Artistic Director Kyle Barnette. "But these three are vocalists who are more part of the theater and jazz community in Charleston, which often goes unnoticed for its depth of vocal talent."
Pianist Tyler Sims will accompany the trio of women for three evenings of shows.
"Without giving too much away, you can bet there will be a very cool swingin' version of the show's title song, a few really amazing trios, some throwback old-school holiday songs, an obscure '80s pop song or two and a couple of songs I had never even heard of," Barnette says.
One of the featured performers, Becca Anderson, has been part of the Lowcountry theater scene since 1996. She first worked at Midtown Productions when it occupied the current Walgreens on the corner of King and Calhoun Streets. Since then, she's worked with 34 West, Pure, Village Rep, Charleston Stage and others.
What If? came into her life in 2012 with the company's first production of "Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche," a show she says is one of her all-time favorites.
"I love the material What If? is known for choosing," she says. "They often like to push boundaries — go out on the edge, get a little wacky — but with a serious commitment to the work."
That boundary-pushing means the holiday revue won't be appropriate for the kids, Barnette says.
"This will be a different sort of experience for anyone yearning for some holiday cheer," Barnette says. "It has that old-school vibe of drinking and laughing and letting loose with your closest friends."
The set list includes a cover of "O Holy Night" that Anderson is particularly looking forward to.
"To me, traditional holiday music is beautiful," she says. "It triggers a nostalgia that is warming and loving, as well as fun."
The shows will take place at the American College for Building Arts for a dimly lit, cozy club atmosphere as the What If? piano bar series goes mobile.
Rusty Bull Brewing will be on hand serving its special "Christmas in a cup" beer, called Cardigan Ale. VIP tables will be available for those who want a close-up experience.