From the moment I took my seat as the pulsating tones of Ke$ha’s “Take It Off” played over the loud speakers, I knew instantly this would not be a traditional night of Shakespearean theater. Adapted and directed by Derek Van Barham, Bite A Pucking Queer Cabaret is a whimsical musical ode to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that plays much like a frozen margarita you could get at the bar. Light, fun, silly, and satisfying for about an hour. 85 minutes to be exact. This mindless mayhem on display is heavy on the silly and firmly reinforced by thick layers of camp. After sifting for meaning through all of the senseless acts of violence that have plagued our country and community over the last month, a night of light and silly cabaret might be just what the doctor order. Shakespeare told through the tracks of contemporary artists including Nikki Minaj, Robyn, The Scissor Sisters, Janelle Monae and Britney Spears. What’s not to like? With capricious music direction from Jeff Bouthiette, bump and grind, titillating choreography from both Derek Van Barham & Christopher Young and a cast of almost a dozen talented singers, you’ll be glad you took a Bite too.
The central story focuses around the tumultuous relationship between the leaders of the fairies, King Oberon (Kevin Webb) and Titania (Raymond K. Cleveland) his glamazon Drag Queen companion. From the narrator, Puck (Nathan Maurice Cooper) electric opening number, a rousing rendition of Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment,” it is definitive this fairy world drew principal inspiration from the HBO mythical hit, True Blood and it’s season four carnival of fairy folk. Quite literally stumbling upon them, four mortals who wander up the stairs and become unwitting playthings for the mystics. It’s a magical and mythical game of love, lust and deception, centuries in the making. As this is a Pride Films & Play production, a curious game of sexuality hop-scotch is front and center. Girls kiss girls, boys dance with boys, girls date boys who date boys dating girls. This virtual pu-pu platter of sexual desires is more giggle inducing than in your face shocking, so feel free to bring your friends without anyone feeling awkward. Since this is a cabaret pop-rock ode to A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a definitive LGBTQ twist, the voices on display is the real show’s highlight. Webb’s Oberon has two dynamite solos, “Years & Years” by King & “She’s My Man” from The Scissor Sisters. Cleveland’s drag persona has an early on lip-sync to Q.U.E.E.N by Janelle Monae, but gets to actually sing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by The Mamas & The Papas at the end. With such quality vocals on display, the lip-sync could easily be discarded. Cleveland is up to the challenge to sing live, wonderfully matched, toe to toe, if not eye to eye, by Webb.
As the four mortals, Liz (Caitlin Aase) is a red headed, gravity defying vixen, who gets a folding chair solo striptease, set to a scaled down version of “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Mia (Melanie Vitaterna) is the requisite party girl blonde, initially attracted to the eccentricity of the fairies of the forest. “Why does everyone always mistreat the pretty one” she inquires, the object of two women’s lustful affections. She gets one of the evening’s biggest laughs when it is time for her solo ballad. The first few chords of Frozen’ s “Let It Go” begins to play before she actually settles on Alessia Cara’s “Here.” Demi (Jennifer Ledesma) gets the single with the most emotional resonance of the entire evening, Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” Poor Demi is attracted to a woman already taken by someone else. Traveling in her wake, Lin (Will Kazda) a gay, straight guy who gets to shine during Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” while he pines for Demi and laments the fact everyone thinks he is gay. The enchanted supporting characters get to play their own version of Fairy-oke as well, punctuated by “The Night is Still Young” from Nicki Minaj. Rivals Moth (David Mor) the requisite hot guy in daisy duke cut off shorts and a harness, easily the most natural dancer of the entire troupe, and Cobweb (Jacob Gilchrist) who has a powerful voice hidden in that lanky body, teetering on Lady Gaga inspired silver platform heels, play a humorous game of microphone one-upmanship. Clearly, those who “Drink together, Twink together.” This is a show where everybody swings and sings both ways.
Scenic and costume designer Brad Caleb Lee makes the most of the intimate performance space with minimalistic set pieces. As for costuming, there is enough skin revealed to almost qualify as burlesque, the exaggerated make up and costumes stretched to fit the apparent shoestring budget. G “Max” Maxin IV lighting and projection design impressive for the space as well. The remaining script is full of tantalizing and teasing one liners. “You call me Queen, but treat me like Jester.” The shade is firmly on display. I must be honest, there is a naughty joke about Sheryl Crow’s music being a buzzkill that had me laughing much louder than it should have. Something for everyone, indeed. Sorry Sheryl.
The evening also afforded Pride Films and Plays Executive Director, David Zak, the ideal opportunity to announce the new permanent home for future Pride Films and Plays, christened the Pride Arts Center in Uptown. Productions will start to play there in January 2017, but I don’t want PFP’s exciting news to pull focus from the opening of Bite. While not perfect, and purposely lacking polish, Bite proved a great deal of fun. I was not “drunk on love and fairy magic” like a few of the participating characters, I certainly enjoyed myself. If I may paraphrase from the theme song from the classic cartoon, The Flintstones, at BITE A Pucking Queer Cabaret, “you’ll have a gay old time.”
Pride Films & Plays Bite A Pucking Queer Cabaret is now playing at Mary’s Attic through August 14, 2016
The Marvelous Marilyn Maye Received Twelve Standing Ovations At The New York Pops
Karen Akers, Jim Caruso, Tony Danza, Jamie deRoy, Max von Essen, Melissa Errico, Bob Mackie, Susie Mosher, Sidney Myer, Josh Prince, Lee Roy Reams, Rex Reed, Randy Roberts, Mo Rocca , Mark Sendroff, Lee Roy Reams, Brenda Vaccaro and David Zippel were there to see and honor Cabaret legend and Grammy nominee Marilyn Maye. Maye who turns 95 April 10th, made her at Carnegie Hall solo debut last night with The New York Pops, led by Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke.
Maye is a highly praised singer, actress, director, arranger, educator, Grammy nominated recording artist and a musical treasure. Her entire life has been committed to the art of song and performance and it showed with the 12 standing ovations she received.
Maye appeared 76 times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, she was “discovered” by Steve Allen and had a RCA recording contract, seven albums and 34 singles.
The evening started out with the superlative New York Pops Overture of Mame, which Maye had played the title role.
Next a Cole Porter Medley with “Looking at You,” Concentrate On You,” “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” It’s Alright With Me,””Just One of Those Things,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “All of You”. This was Marilyn’s second standing ovation. The first was when she stood on that stage for the first time and the audience was rapturous.
A terrific “It’s Today” from Mame with high flying kicks was the third ovation and wow can that woman kick.
A rainbow medley included “Look To The Rainbow” from Finnian’s Rainbow, the iconic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the jazzy “Make Me Rainbows” and of course “The Rainbow Connection.” And with that another standing ovation.
“Put On A Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie.
Frank Loesser’s Joey, Joey, Joey brought on a fifth standing ovation. This song was a masterclass in acting and vocal nuance. For that matter every song that comes out of Ms. Maye’s mouth is perfection. Part of the brilliance of this night is her musical director, arranger, and pianist Ted Firth. That man is a genius.
Lerner and Loewe’s “On The Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady ended the first act with a sixth standing ovation.
The overture from Hello Dolly! and then Cabaret shows Marilyn Maye also starred in opened the second act. The New York Pops sounded phenomenal as always.
“Your Gonna Hear From Me” from “Inside Daisy Clover was an appropriate starter for this next round as the audience got to its feet.
Maye’s most requested song “Guess Who I Saw Today” from New Faces of 1952 was followed by a show stopping “Fifty Percent” from Ballroom and of course another standing ovation.
Her next song was chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to be included in its permanent collection of recordings from the 20th century. Her recording of “Too Late Now” is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the 110 Best American Compositions of the Twentieth Century and Ms. Maye showed us why and again another standing ovation.
A proclamation from The City of New York read by Steven Reineke to Marilyn Maye made this day Marilyn Maye Day. This treasure cried with joy as she sang Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here.” Though she forgot some of the lyric, Ms. Maye proved performing is all on the intent and connecting to the audience. Two more standing ovations were added here.
For encores, I was thrilled to hear James Taylor’s “Circle of Life” and “Here’s To Life,” which is my personal favorite, finally going back into “It’s Today” with those high kicks and a twelfth standing ovation. Bravo Ms. Maye!
If you are a singer and do not catch Ms. Maye live, you really do not care about your craft. Last night Ms. Maye made it clear why she’s been celebrated as one of America’s greatest jazz singers for more than 50 years and this was a night I will always remember. Thank-you New York Pops.
Don’t miss the Pop’s 40th Birthday Gala: This One’s For You: The Music Of Barry Manilow on Monday, May 1st. The gala will star Sean Bell, Erich Bergen, Betty Buckley, Charo, Deborah Cox, Danny Kornfeld, Norm Lewis, Melissa Manchester, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, Billy Stritch, Steven Telsey, Max von Essen, Dionne Warwick, and more to be announced. This will be yet another New York Pop’s Night not to miss.
My View: It’s Today! It’s Tonight! Marilyn Maye Rehearses For Her New York Pops Carnegie Hall Debut
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself at the opportunities you are presented with. TODAY would be one of those. Or as Marilyn Maye might sing to you, “It’s Today.”
This afternoon I had the privilege of witnessing the 95 year old star, rehearsing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, under the baton of Maestro Steven Reineke, in front of the mighty New York Pops Orchestra. It all happens tonight and has been a lifetime in the making. As if The New York Times piece, bylined by Melissa Errico, wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for what is sure to be a historic evening, maybe these photos will help get you even more excited. Thank you to all who made this happen for me, to present to you….Humbly Yours, Stephen
THE GREEN ROOM 42 Presents Tony Award-nominee Sharon McNight Celebrating 40 Years of Stories And Songs
THE GREEN ROOM 42 will present Tony Award-nominee Sharon McNight in “Surviving Cabaret,” a storied look back at the last forty years of notable performances, on Thursday, April 13 and Saturday, April 15, both at 7:00 PM. McNight is known for her “no holds barred” approach to performing, which has earned the entertainer multiple honors and two Lifetime Achievement awards. She is famous for making audiences laugh and cry at the same show with her eclectic bag of musical choices, which include blues, country, Broadway, comedy, parody, impressions and accompanying stories. She will be joined by musical director James “Jim Bob” Followell.
Sharon McNight began her career in San Francisco, and made her Broadway debut in 1989 in Starmites, creating the role of Diva. She received a Tony nomination as “Best Leading Actress in a Musical” for her performance, and is the recipient of the Theatre World Award for “Outstanding Broadway Debut” and a Hirschfeld drawing of her character. She has six solo recordings to her credit, and has played from Moose Hall to Carnegie Hall, from Los Angeles to Berlin. In addition to her two Lifetime Achievement awards, she has won the MAC, Bistro, and New York Nightlife Awards, and six San Francisco Cabaret Gold Awards.
Her eclectic repertory ranges from blues to country to good old-fashioned entertainment. She is noted for her movie reenactment of The Wizard of Oz and for being one of the few real women to impersonate Bette Davis. Her television credits include “Seinfeld,” “Silk Stalkings,” and “Hannah Montana.” McNight received her Masters of Arts degree in direction from San Francisco State College and was a master teacher on the faculty of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University. She says the greatest day of her life was the day she quit smoking.
Sharon McNight will perform “Surviving Cabaret”on Thursday, April 13 and Saturday, April 15, both at 7:00 PM, at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel). The cover charge ranges from $30-$50. A livestream option is available for both shows at $20 each. For tickets, please visit www.TheGreenRoom42.com.
Tech2 years ago
How to Take Advantage of Virtual Numbers for SMS
Business2 years ago
Entre Institute Review – Is Jeff Lerner’s Program a Scam?
Entertainment2 years ago
A Star is Born – Barvina Takes Entertainment World by Storm
Events3 months ago
New Year’s Eve Traditions In The US and Around The World
Film9 months ago
Elvis and The Mob Connection
Broadway2 years ago
Broadway Reopening: The Theatre Listings
Events2 years ago
The Question On Everyone’s Mind Should Be How Did The Haitians Get To Mexico
Spiritual2 years ago
The History of Numerology
Family2 years ago
Who Is Justine Ang Fonte and Why Are We Letting Her Near Children?
Broadway11 months ago
Funny Girl Makes Julie Benko a Star