Earlier this year, a trusted group of people assembled inside the Ventura Theater to witness something many of them were unprepared for: Loanne Wullaert’s emergence from her chrysalis. Most of those in attendance, to varying degrees, were aware that the 46-year-old manager (or the person who takes out the trash, as she likes to say) of the venue had been going through changes, but not everyone was aware of the extent — and it’s probably safe to say that no one, save for her crew, imagined her perched high above the stage on a hydraulic riser in a ball gown giving Kristin Chenoweth a run for her money. A broken heart will do that to a girl.
Wullaert admits that 28 years in the event business, putting up with its attendant shenanigans, has hardened her somewhat, and after being blindsided by the end of a long romantic relationship, she decided to let her hair down and court a side of herself she hadn’t seen in a while. The side that can rock silk charmeuse and fill a 1,200-capacity theater with her voice.
It had been more than a decade since she performed in public, singing opera in front of her goth band Sinfonia, and though friends had often nudged her to get back on stage, life has a way of preempting that sort of thing. But when Wullaert found herself in need of a project, something to occupy the hours, music is what she turned to.
Once she gathered a crack production crew, the rehearsals began. Wullaert chose a handful of her favorite love songs and commenced to spending four to five hours per night practicing. “It was therapy,” she says. And a show was born.
“Sette Canzoni d’Amore” was the title she chose for the tour de force that featured Wullaert alone on stage in a number of dazzling costumes belting out her renditions of seven deeply moving songs. There were goosebumps in every row, to be sure. And plenty of Kleenex shared between the ladies in the house. Along with creative lighting and top-shelf sound, what Wullaert presented to her friends was not just a professional live theater experience; it was a front row seat for her transformation.
But sort of like the day after Christmas, when the room went dark Wullaert was left, once again, with a void, albeit triumphantly so. It only made sense to begin plans for another performance; and with the holidays around the corner, she thought it would also be a great way to do something charitable.
On Tuesday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m., Wullaert will perform Canzoni Invernali di Amore or Winter Songs of Love at the Ventura Theater. The family-friendly show will be a great way to usher in the season and introduce youth to a little culture. Accompanying her on vocals and music will be members of New Liberty, Reluctant Hero and a 13 year-old violinist, among others.
A $10 donation at the door is suggested, and proceeds will go to Interface Children and Family Services. Interface will also be collecting shoes at the event to satisfy its goal of sending 7,500 pairs of shoes to people in third-world countries. Shoes of any size, style and condition will be accepted. There will also be a silent auction to benefit Interface.
For more information, visit www.icfs.org or www.venturatheater.net.