November 30, 2023

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Monstrous Melodies Bring Vintage Halloween Music to Crooners

4 min read

Halloween may mean costumes, the macabre, and spooky music. But it doesn’t have to be, right?

The Crooners Supper Club will host the Monstrous Melodies cabaret on October 20th and the 26th.

According to Daniel Andersen, the curator and creator of this show, this cabaret event will feature “vintage Halloween Music from 1917, by Irving Berlin, up until the 1960s with obscure songs written by Tommy Dorsey and Rosemary Clooney.” It also features the “some of our long-standing community talent…Dan Chounard, Prudence Johnson and Dane Stauffer.”

“I’ve been going to Crooners for years and attending various Christmas shows all over the place,” explained Andersen, “and I got to thinking there are precious few musical shows around Halloween, so this is how it came to be.  The show is in true cabaret style therefore, it is a collection of songs centered around a theme, in this case Monsters, and does not have a tight conflict, etc.  There is a tad of a story line…but it’s minimal; a loveless witch, a transitionally impaired werewolf, a philosophizing devil and a reluctantly immortal vampire but mostly it is about the MUSIC!!”

About the music, Andersen further explained that “of all the tunes, 14 of them, 12 were written between 1912 and 1960.  One of the opening songs, ‘At the Devil’s Ball’ was written by Irving Berlin and another, for example ‘Celery Stalks at Midnight’ was recorded by Doris Day in 1940.  All are about Monsters. The cabaret is not serious, but comedic. There are purposefully few songs one would recognize…most of the music has been “resurrected” from history. In fact, I found one piece of sheet music from Australia to the tune of 90 bucks to have sent.”

We covered Crooners in the past, so it always comes up in conversation as to why we should patronize it. Andersen explained that Crooners “was voted one of the best jazz joints in the US and has kept live musicians working in the city during COVID. Mary T, the owner, is amazing.”   

The cast of Chouinard, Johnson, and Stauffer comes with some serious local credentials. “[They] are classic, local celebrities,” Andersen said. “Dan and Pru still work with Garrison Keillor and do all sorts of shows about town. Dane played in Triple Espresso years ago and recently was in that ‘Glensheen’ production He does loads with the History Theatre.”

We also asked the performers their take on this Halloween cabaret. Stauffer explained that “anyone who has seen me perform at Crooners or concerts around The Cities for the last few years knows I LOVE an eclectic set list, and I love to mix the well-known with the obscure and everything in-between. It’s so fun to dig back and find catchy tunes that have been long forgotten or rarely heard. And Daniel has done a wonderful job of excavating the vaults of music history to find some really fun, funny and lovely tunes to celebrate this season.”

Johnson adds that “very early on in my career, I was immersed in music from the 20s and 30s for several years. I found a lot of it very inventive and playful. The music world was always a leader on the path to integration, and African American artists like Louis Armstrong (who is represented in our Monstrous Melodies repertoire) were having an enormous effect on our culture. It’s exciting to hear that in these songs. And we have an ensemble, and particularly a pianist, Dan Chouinard, who truly understand the genre. Since the loss of Butch Thompson, I can’t think of another pianist more proficient in stride and other early jazz piano styles.”

If you’re wondering if this show is for all audiences, Andersen explained that “kids can go to the show, but it was not intended for kids. There are some double entendre jokes, a few alluding to ED for example, but nothing profane, just themes stated above. This isn’t Casper but it isn’t ‘Rocky Horror.’ Again, it’s light and about the music.   I really think the gay audience between 30 and death, ha, would really enjoy the show.” 

Want another incentive to go to these performances at Crooners? Stauffer said that we should “expect hilarity, great singing and swinging music, costumes, laughter and surprises! And yes…costumes!!” Johnson also said that “the musical component of the show will be very good, but it’s also going to be incredibly goofy and fun.”

By the way, costumes are encouraged, if you plan on checking this cabaret out at Crooners on October 20 and 26.  

It’s true that the Twin Cities does not have a huge LGBTQ+ Halloween scene as they have in other cities around the world. But, if you’re looking for something that is not your typical Halloween fare, come for a night of vintage tunes and great singing to celebrate something that won’t induce any nightmares.

Monstrous Melodies Cabaret
October 20-26 – 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
Crooners Supper Club, 6161 Highway 65 NE, Fridley
October 20:
October 26:


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