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Cayman Ilika Revels in First Concert Since Pandemic
Thursday, September 10, 2020


Cayman Ilika has just sent her son Teddy off to his first day of school in the basement of her home where he will spend the school year learning with three second graders, one second grader and one  first grader.

The singer-actor, who has been called “one of the brightest lights to glow in the Seattle Theatre scene the past decade,” has been tending to his schooling since the coronavirus pandemic shut Seattle schools down in mid-March. And it is, she says, the hardest thing she’s ever done.

“I failed pretty miserably at teaching last spring. I figured out quickly I’m not someone who’s good at teaching. I didn’t go to school to learn to teach. I went to learn to sing,” she said.

But, with the COVID pandemic turning the lights off in theaters across the country, Ilika hasn’t performed since February. That’s why she can’t wait to perform at a Garden Concert Al Fresco organized by Sun Valley Opera with her accompanist and good friend Christopher DiStefano.

The concert, organized by Sun Valley Opera, will be held in a private garden at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. Tickets are $75, available at 208-726-0991 or via There will be pre-assigned socially distanced chairs on the lawn in groups of two and four.

“I am so excited,” Ilika said. “I’m going to rehearse at my parents’ house this weekend.”

Ilika and DiStefano have constructed what she calls “an excellent song list,” including many of the songs she has sung in shows over the years.

The raven-haired singer portrayed June Carter Cash in the musical “Ring of Fire” and Patsy in “Always, Patsy Cline.”

“I’ve got a great rendition of ‘Ring of Fire’ probably unlike anyone has heard before,” she said. “And Patsy Cline is almost bluegrassy with some yodeling. And that’s a flip between your chest voice and your head voice. If you get it right, it’s a magical trick that’s really fun.”

DiStefano will join her in a duet and she will perform songs from other roles in such musicals as “Oliver!” “Mary Poppins,” “Showboat,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” as well as favorite country songs from the likes of Carl Perkins and Elvis.

“Country is one of my favorite forms of music,” she said. “There’s something special about country music. It has a really rich storytelling aspect—more so than popular music.”

Not being able to perform has been excruciating.

“This is my full-time career. I’ve performed in more than 100,000 performances. Never in my life have I held a job that’s not musical theater—nobody would want me making their coffee,” she said. “Everybody in theater has suffered tremendously. But the only way to do live theater is to gather people in one place--that’s just the nature of it. And not everyone has open-air space.”

Ilika started singing at 7 around the house where her mother, an OB-GYN, and her father who played Mr. Mom were always playing Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland records. Her parents signed her up for choir, but when she could not blend in with other voices they got her voice lessons, instead.

She recorded her voice lessons and mimicked them over and over, easily putting in 100,000 hours of practice.

“I can get lost in a song. I feel great when I’m singing and I love to make others happy,” said Ilika who studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I love it when I sing a Johnny Cash song or some other song that enables people to remember personal experiences.”

Aside from singing, Ilika loves dogs, Indian food, The Beatles, Harry Potter and adding to her taxidermy collection.

She loves old things. And her husband Gavriel Jacobs--high school sweetheart, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war and now prosecuting attorney for King County—are always on the lookout for old records for him and jade and seafoam green Depression-era glass for her.

She also loves scouring antique shops for Victorian scrapbooks full of old newspaper advertisements, postcards and calling cards.

“I love looking through them and imagining how someone sat there for hours looking through cards that came from guys who would come to court,” she said.

But that’ll have to wait for now. After all, she has a show to perform.

“I will give the people in Sun Valley a wonderful evening full of songs,” she said. “I recognize this is such a gift to be able to do this at this time.”



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