Cabaret singer and former Kenilworth resident Jeff Harnar says he owes his career to his North Shore upbringing. His first performance was with the Wilmette Children's Theatre when he was nine years old. "They were doing Music Man. I got the part of the little boy who sings 'Gary, Indiana' and a Chicago talent agent saw me and started auditioning me for commercials. By the time I was ten I had my union card and was taking the train in and doing jingles. I did probably 15 shows with the Wilmette Children's Theatre and then I had the great good fortune to go to New Trier East, which might as well be a high school of the performing arts, the program is so superb."
Harnar created his first cabaret act as a showcase for his talents, hoping lightning would strike again and an agent would whisk him off to Broadway. That hasn't happened, but the act worked so well on its own Harnar stuck with it, performing the American popular songbook--Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart--songs with "pretty sublime" lyrics, "each one, on its own, a little three-act play." He met Shauna Hicks 12 years ago, when they were both singing waiters at a New York restaurant. It was her idea to devise a cabaret show of songs Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland did in the nine films they made together--films like Girl Crazy, Strike Up the Band, and Babes in Arms. They'll perform it next week in Arlington Heights and, if things go right, off-Broadway next spring. Shauna and Jeff Sing Mickey & Judy runs at 8 PM Thursday, November 30, through Saturday, December 2, at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell in Arlington Heights. Tickets are $27.50; call 847-577-2121.