Local musical theater performer presents one-man cabaret show

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Josh Wechsler, musical theater performer and vocal director, is performing his one-man cabaret titled “Here With You!” in which he will be singing 17 songs from different eras and styles.   

The challenge of portraying dark, complicated and seductive characters is what Josh Wechsler craves in every stage show. He is interested in scripts that embrace the elements of magic, mystery, love and spirituality.

Wechsler, an Austin-based musical theater performer, combines all of these elements in his one-man cabaret show “Here With You! Unexpected Songs from Sondheim to Zeppelin,” which he will perform at City Theatre this Sunday. 

According to Wechsler, cabaret is a complex, entertaining hybrid of song, music, drama and personality that explores common themes such as love, jealousy and hope, providing the audience a personal glimpse into the characters in the show.

In his performance, Wechsler sings 17 songs from different eras and styles, and the title for the show, ‘Here With You!,’ is taken from the lyrics of one of the songs. 

Wechsler, who has performed in concerts and cabarets in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Dallas, said a cabaret show is not about the spectacle, but about the interaction with the audience.

“I’ll be directly addressing the audience, creating an intimate musical experience for them,” Wechsler said. “‘Here With You!’ also represents the theme of the show, of just being present with the people that you’re with. You’re alive in a room with people having a good time.”

Wechsler, originally from Dallas, moved to Austin in 2009 after graduating from Oklahoma City University with a bachelor’s of music in 2008. 

Since then, he has sung, performed and acted in a series of theatrical productions in Austin, such as “Spring Awakening,” “Falsettos” and “Corpus Christi.”

When Wechsler’s grandmother took him to see a touring production of “The Phantom of the Opera” when he was 9 years old, Wechsler realized musical theater was what he wanted to pursue. 

“My grandmother was the one to help me experience theater,” Wechsler said. “She exposed me to the theater that I’ve grown up loving.”

Wechsler is now the vocal director for the pre-professional company in ZACH Theatre’s education department. His first professional job was in 2011 with ZACH Theatre, when he performed in “Spring Awakening.” 

“I like the idea of archetypes,” Wechsler said. “So the character I played in ‘Spring Awakening’ was dark and seductive, and he was a little bit of a troublemaker. When I set out to do a role like this, I think of an archetype. I think about how what those characters have in common, and how I relate to them.”

It was while performing at ZACH Theatre that Wechsler met Jennifer Young, the pre-professional program coordinator, who gave him the vocal director job.

“His most defining qualities are his voice and his commitment to his characters,” Young said.

While working on the 2012 production of “Corpus Christi,” Wechsler met Jeff Hinkle, director-in-residence at Austin Theatre Project.

“Musicals are his strength, and he shines in that theatrical genre,” Hinkle said. “He has a charismatic stage presence and really knows how to bring emotion to the songs he sings.”

Wechsler said his performances are not for personal glory, but instead a way to reach out to the audience through well-told stories of love and hope.

“The most important thing for me is to put out a show that means something to my audience,” Wechsler said. “With the cabaret show I’m doing now, there are no restrictions by a script or a pre-set score. The whole music means something to me, and I wish to share it with my audience.”