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Singer, director Abbey Crawford gathers friends for benefit show

Performer Abbey Crawford, center poses for a photo with fellow performers Jim Swoboda, left, and Alyssa Day, right on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, at The Bing in Spokane, Wash. Crawford has gathered some of her talented friend together for a one-night-only evening of cabaret, with proceeds to benefit local nonprofits. TYLER TJOMSLAND tylert@spokesman.com (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Performer Abbey Crawford, center poses for a photo with fellow performers Jim Swoboda, left, and Alyssa Day, right on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, at The Bing in Spokane, Wash. Crawford has gathered some of her talented friend together for a one-night-only evening of cabaret, with proceeds to benefit local nonprofits. TYLER TJOMSLAND tylert@spokesman.com (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

In the middle of the 1977 Disney feature “Pete’s Dragon,” pop star Helen Reddy, playing the daughter of an elderly lighthouse keeper, slows things down with a performance of the Oscar-nominated ballad “Candle on the Water.”

“I know you’re lost and drifting, but the clouds are lifting,” she sings. “Don’t give up, you have somewhere to turn.”

It’s one of the many songs of light and optimism that will be featured on the program of “Make It Matter with Music,” a musical revue hosted by local jazz vocalist and theater director Abbey Crawford at the Bing Crosby Theater on Saturday.

“It’s done in the cabaret style,” Crawford said of the show. “I get to be in charge and sing whatever the heck I want and have any of my friends come with me.”

Crawford and her featured guests will be accompanied only by a piano, and all of the performers remain on the stage for the duration of the concert.

“I like the idea of us all supporting each other, and that way you get to watch the audience’s reaction, too,” Crawford said. “Live performance is such a unique thing. I like performing with the audience instead of at them, so they can all feel like they’re a part of it.”

Crawford’s roster of guest performers includes several well-known faces from the Spokane stage: Jim Swoboda, Daniel McKeever, Alyssa Day, Nick Bailey. Thara Cooper, a former Spokane performer now living in Seattle, is also in the lineup, and Crawford said she’s thrilled that Cooper is making a trip just to be in her show.

“I sent invitations out to people I really wanted to work with because I want the community to see their talent, too,” Crawford said. “I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet because almost 95 percent of my friends are theatrically talented in one way or the other. I can’t have a show with everybody in it, because that show would be four days long.”

“Make It Matter with Music” will also serve as a fundraiser for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, the Modern Theater and Friends of the Bing. Crawford has hosted similar functions before, including her Abbey and Friends concert series, and she said she relishes the opportunity to give back to the community.

“I love singing with my friends,” she said, “and when I can raise money and do it in one of the theaters that I love, it’s like a perfect storm.”

Crawford said most of the songs on the upcoming program are selections from well-known musicals, and she’s already performed a number of the tunes in previous cabaret acts. The theme linking all of the evening’s songs is hope, which Crawford said mirrors the goals of Vanessa Behan.

“They’re giving hope to families who don’t necessarily have all kinds of hope in front of them,” Crawford said. “I think they play a very important role in the community as far as children are concerned, and I’m pretty passionate about keeping children safe.”


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