It all started when...
It's been suggested to me that I start a blog for Dorothy's. When I asked folks what I should write about, one of the most immediate responses was "tell us your story. Tell us about Dorothy's and how it started." Okay. Here I go!
I've been a musician my entire life and it's been my profession for over 30 years now. I've been a teacher for most of it but have done a fair amount of performing and recently have turned some attention to composing. One thing I've always enjoyed doing though is playing the role of impressario, a word that can be defined as "producer" but has a deeper meaning in being someone who helps other artists gain the spotlight, often ones who have been previously unknown. I've done this in many ways through teaching, theatre work, conducting and more but a part of me yearns to do it bigger and better. How can I fulfill both what I love to do as a musician and what I'd like to do for others?
There are certainly numerous ways to accomplish the above goal but I have also often wanted to own a bar. My ex and I almost took a major step in this direction in 2006 San Francisco. Neither of us were happy with our careers at the time and thought we could open a bar together. We found one in our neighborhood that was for sale but alas the $3 million price tag that was required to buy both the business and the building was beyond our reach so we abandoned the idea.
10 years later, single and in a new city I came back to the idea. This time though I also gave some thought to my longtime desire to have a dinner theatre and a bar. Why not do both? I came up with the concept of Dorothy's and decided it would be a three-tiered venue. The main room would be a nightly piano bar where patrons could sing what some call "piano karaoke." (I really dislike this term because a good piano bar is so much better than that but it's a term that people can hear and relate to.)
A great piano bar has many things: a terrific pianist on hand to entertain the crowd; a large selection of songs for people to sing; the option for singers to bring in their own sheet music for the pianist to play; fun singalongs; theme nights; delicious drinks and small plates; a comfortable and friendly atmosphere and so much more. My goal is for Dorothy's Piano Bar to have all of these things and to evolve in the ways that best fit our customers' needs. Of course, I'll also enjoy getting to sit down at the piano some of the time and playing for the singers.
The second part of Dorothy's will be our cabaret lounge that will feature many fantastic local performers and hopefully some with national name recognition. I've been truly lucky during my time in Seattle to meet and befriend a host of wonderful artists. Many have already performed at our pop-up events and more are scheduled this year. Dorothy's Cabaret will be an intimate and very comfortable lounge with cocktail tables, comfy chairs, a sofa or two and the great drinks and small plates we hope to become known for.
The final phase of Dorothy's will be a black box theatre. A black box is a flexible theatre space that can be rearranged in numerous ways to fit a performance concept. After much thought I have decided to let Dorothy's Little Black Box be it's own non-profit organization that will partner with Dorothy's Piano Bar and Cabaret to produce a regular season of great (mostly musical) theatre. The focus will be on re-envisioning classic shows, producing and promoting brand new works and spotlighting new and under-served artists. We already have our IRS 501(c)3 designation letter and more news will be announced soon.
When we finally open, I know that Dorothy's will be a venue unlike anything Seattle has ever seen and also a place where people from all walks of life can come, have a great time, make some music together, meet new friends and be entertained.
Thanks for coming on the ride with me. Stay tuned for the next post when I tell you all about why we're called Dorothy's