Posts Tagged ‘kander and ebb’

Mini-review – The World Goes Round – Union Theater

January 23, 2014

Now, this is embarrassing. Faced with the difficulties of writing a review of a musical that’s, well, actually just a musical revue – a bunch of songs from other shows pulled together to make an evening – I bit the bullet and actually bought a program. Hey, I’ve got a job now, I can afford two quid.

And yet, here I am, 24 hours later, and it’s nowhere to be found. Did I leave it in the cafe? Was it under my chair? Arrgh! The Union’s website doesn’t even credit half of the cast! Right, better get the review written as quickly as possible – and my apologies in advance to the five (I think!) dancers, whom I can’t give even the slightest credit to.

The World Goes Round is, quite simply, an evening of songs by Kander and Ebb. No time to see all of their shows? I admit, it’s hard, given they have some twenty musicals to their credit. I’ve only managed eight. And yet, for me, this evening was full of incredible songwriting, a great combination of the familiar (songs from Cabaret and Chicago) and the obscure. Many of them were done as miniature plays in a song, almost in the music video format. I loved hearing so many fresh, well-written numbers given a chance to shine without all of the dross of a full evening’s story to support them. (I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to see 70 Girls 70 or Woman of the Year but it costs a lot of money to make even the smallest musical happen and I’m very happy just to hear the songs.)

This meant, for the first time ever, I got to get the giggles at “Sara Lee,” a paen to an imaginary chef (a la Mr Kipling), and I was able to clap and laugh at the perfection of “Ring Them Bells” (a real star turn for Emma Francis). And “Arthur in the Afternoon” – a song celebrating the psychological benefits of married woman having a bit on the side – was just hysterical, showing off Lisa Stokke (and her legs, and the smooth moves of the dancer taking the role of Arthur) to a T.

But … there was the incongruity of people dressed in evening wear singing the “Money” song. And the grating experience of “Cabaret” being done as if by a barbershop quartet, all of the content stripped in favor of some pretty harmonies. Kander and Ebb’s songs are about real human feelings, about how people don’t do what they’re “supposed” to do, about hurting, but, to me, always with a gritty, real core … not just pretty. Not people in sharp clothes talking about not having money as if they knew what it meant to be poor (although as London actors I’m sure they’ve all had the experience more than once).

And, also, not less that top drawer talent pulling off this song. Emma Francis was consistently on, but both of the men were just a bit too soft (and the bearded one seemed off key) to really punch the hard songs. And while I never thought I would say this, Susan Fay was too old to be singing so many songs about love and sex and disappointment. Despite her chestnut hair and good figure, there was something about her face that, at such quarters, looked very mid-sixties. It wasn’t working with this repetoire (and I’m almost ashamed to say it but it was distracting to me). Given the way the cast delivered professionalism but not really edginess, I got the feeling this show might have really punched it higher if the casting director had gone for a group of younger unknowns, people more hungry for success. That’s a feeling that pushes these songs forward really well.

While this show is based on where Kander and Ebb were in ’91, it means that several songs from their later ouvre were overlooked, including the many great numbers from Curtains and the fabulous tunes of The Scottsboro Boys (which admittedly would have been hard to perform with this all-white cast). Overall, the feeling was of a night which set out to basically be pleasant and entertaining … and rather sadly didn’t achieve much more. It still deserved better than the less-than-half-full house it had the night I went, though: hardly a musical in town can boast two tunes as good as any of the ones in The World Goes Round.

(This review is for a performance that took place on January 22nd, 2014. It continues through February 8th.)

Advertisements

Review – Chicago – Leicester Curve

January 4, 2014

Most of my reviews are done for people who may not know a lot about a particular show. They just want to know if a show is good or not, and if it’s going to give them good value on the money. I’m warning you in advance, though, this review, for Chicago as done at the Leicester Curve, is not that kind of review. I’m kind of obsessed with Chicago. If you’re not, just read the first paragraph or two (spoiler alert: YES, it’s worth the money, but don’t take a seven year old, please, as the many vigorous scenes of people humping and being murdered are not really kiddie friendly). But what I want to do here is dissect what’s good and what’s not about this show, to place it in the pantheon of Chicago productions.

As a unit, as a show, this fresh new production is a lovely change on the very dated revival (1996) that was on the West End until September 2012. Transparent stocking material body suits with bras and undies on display and an emphasis on red-hot bodies in the cast – it was as stuck in its time as a Nagel print. Fortunately, the sexiness is still fully intact, but the cast is clad in champagne and gold … though they still seem to be frequently wearing very little (that said, with a bum like Zizi Strallen, granny pants are a sin).

Now, one of the biggest complaints I’ve had about the ever-changing cast of the revival is that they used the excuse of the stars being a 1) washed up cabaret singer 2) a failed chorine 3) a guy with two easy to sing numbers (“All I Care About” and “Razzle Dazzle”) to put a bunch of second rate celebrities in the show in a desperate attempt to lure in punters. Ooh ooh, Brooke Shields on stage, but SERIOUSLY, Roxie, Velma, and Billy are GREAT parts that flourish with GREAT actors in the roles. And finally, in this show, I got to see a performance in which excellence was the criterion by which performers were picked: long legged and pouty Verity Rushworth as Velma; short, sassy, and “voice of champions” Gemma Sutton as Roxie; seamless strutter David Leonard as greasy charmer Billy Flynn. I don’t need to make excuses about getting asses in seats when explaining the shortcomings of the Curve’s cast; they didn’t have them, really. Yeah, Velma’s wig was dowdy (and Roxie’s was just not right for the era at all), absolutely nobody could pronounce Amos correctly (it’s not “a moss,” people), and … um …

IT WAS JUST AWESOME PEOPLE LOOK HERE I AM DIGGING FOR THINGS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. And instead I got a production that, unlike the movie, included the cut songs: “Me and My Baby,” “Class,” “I Am My Own Best Friend” (which, performed as a window into the selfish hearts of Velma and Roxie, was just great). “Me and My Baby” had guys dancing around in diapers on stage – hysterical – and listening to Mama and Velma complain about people’s lack of class while they drank hootch out of a bottle, hung out of their tops and swore like sailors was just MMMM tasty. (I have to praise Sandra Marvin’s performance of “When You’re Good To Mama” – although I found her corset a bit precarious, she took on the song and added flourishes to it that had to have the whole audience going, “Wow, we have got some bad-assed singing talent on stage.” )

But WOW the big scenes – the opening number (“Chicago”) with the big backing cast swirling around in kind of torn pinky-tan outfits (I thought maybe they were just going to rip off the style of the other produvction’s costumes but this turned out not to be the case), miming fornication and showing off their great bodies while Roxie shot, er, whazzisface, had JOLTS of energy and firmly set the production in an era when moral codes have been shattered. Then the final number, Roxie and Velma singing together (thanking Chicago for making them what they are – famous and employed simply for the virtue of being celebrities – very appropriate still in this celebrity-obsessed culture) in beaded champagne dresses, showing their lack of skill or friendship (while we know both Sutton and Rushworth are great – we’ve been watching them all night!), finally surrounded by dancers in shimmering, giant gold sequins that fluttered like coins waving in the air – a paean to money and sex.

But my favorite was the delicious “Razzle Dazzle” scene, in which the dancers come on stage as circus performers, in outfits made of crazy straps and shiny things, doing fun stunts with ropes and acrobatics while slowly driving home the point that the trial is a show, not a cold analysis of the facts. The dancers stay on stage for Roxie and Amos’ interrogations, keeping the whole thing unreal and electric.

In short: it was worth the cost of my train ticket AND my second row seat. It was great. If you love Kander and Ebb, Chicago, or excellent musicals given the attention they deserve and served up at a reasonable price, I highly advise you to make the trip to Leicester.

(This review is for the matinee performance of December 31st, 2013. It continues through January 18th. If anyone can get me recordings of the original Broadway performance – not the music but the visuals – I’d really appreciate it as what I’ve heard about it makes it sound amazing.)

Review – The Scottsboro Boys – Young Vic Theater

October 28, 2013

It’s been a three years since I saw The Scottsboro Boys in New York. At the time I saw it as a failure, in part because of its negative reception by local audiences (and rather quick closing) and in part because of my feeling that the music was just a bit of a hash of older music from the Kander/Ebb repetoire. But I was still very excited about a chance to see it again in London. What was it, I wonder? Was it because actually … it was really very good? Or did I just want a chance to see a show made by people who actually knew how to write music?

After seeing Friday’s preview performance at the Young Vic, I’ve changed how I feel about this show: I now think it is a modern masterpiece, one that we are lucky to have performed in the intimate confines of the Young Vic with a prodigious shower of talent. Five of the eleven core cast (the nine “Scottsboro Boys” plus the key characters of Mr Tambo and Mr Bones) are from the original Broadway show, and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with excitement at seeing that much black talent on the stage at the same time, including British black talent. I don’t like that my favorite art form doesn’t seem to look at all like the society I live in, and it makes me really happy to see fantastic actors of color given a chance to shine. It’s good for their careers, it’s good for the industry, it’s good for diversifying the audiences that come to theater – and, in this case, it means we are getting to see a story that’s totally new, because it’s about a section of (American) society that isn’t portrayed on the stage very much.

And, wow, what a story. I knew where it was going but other people in the audience didn’t: I heard a young woman gasp with disbelief at a key moment in the story. The story of The Scottsboro Boys isn’t in British text books, and it was probably about one sentence in my high school American history class; but I don’t want people to be told what it’s about. Let the tale unspool as a surprise, so that every twist and turn can be as horrifying as it ought to be. In my homeland, black men were imprisoned for looking at white women. They were hung for getting out of line, and by their fellow citizens, not by any “law.” This was America. Nine men could go to jail for trumped up rape charges and still be kept there even when the evidence was shown to not exist. And yes, we kept 13 year old children in jail on charges of rape – two of them, in this case, and a fifteen year old, and two seventeen year olds. And my glorious “land of the free and home of the brave” systematically denied them every protection of law available.

Kander and Ebb take this tale of horrors and present it in the form of a minstrel show, with the traditional comic roles of Mr Bones (Colman Domingo) and Mr Tambo (Forrest McClendon) (they play the jailors, the judges, drunk attorneys and so on) while the one white character – the interlocutor (Julian Glover) – moves the action along. Or does he? In some ways, his role as the “master of ceremonies’ (per a traditional minstrel show) is actually transmuted into the “voice of white Alabama,” and his attempts to act as if his role as a superior is natural and accepted by the black men is blatantly subverted in the song “Southern Days” (which also makes clear the abuse of blacks that existed continually along the “genteel” side of the South). Attorney Samuel Leibowitz (also Forreset McClendon) shows up to give us a moment of hope for race relations – he is, at least, offended by the separate entrances and drinking fountains for “colored” – but as he sings “That’s Not the Way We Do Things,” it becomes clear he believes just as much in the superiority of whites – the people up north are just more subtle in their racism. And then we get “Financial Advice,” where the Alabama Attorney General starts talking about Jew money, and, seriously, sitting there in the audience, it’s just so incredibly dirty and distressing that it’s hard to stay in your chair.

Surrounding all of this like the praline around a pecan is the music and dancing that flesh out this work. Never trivial, always beautiful, I feel as if the creators of this show tried their hardest to keep us put by giving us beautiful singing and hair-raising choreography (oh, that electric chair song!) to help balance out the horrors we’re watching on stage. In some ways, it’s the Cabaret approach all over again, minus the sex and the drugs, with us hoping against hope that “I won’t lie to be free” Haywood Patterson (Kyle Scatliffe – how does he do it night after night?) is going to get a happy ending. Because, you know, that’s how it happens in Cabaret, right?

I could go on and on about how good the performances were, mutter a bit about the strange presence of “The Lady” (obviously meant from the beginning to be Rosa Parks – Dawn Hope), cheer about the inventive choreography, beam at the stripped down set that lets you build trains, jails, courtrooms, and plantation homes with your imaginations. But instead, I’ll just note that top price tickets for this show are 35 quid, and that, even at that price, I judge them to be a giveaway for what you get in return. It’s been extended to December 21st, and the running time is 1:45, by which time you’ll be exhausted and exhilarated and possibly wanting a drink. Book early: I think this might be the show you decide to go see twice – as it’s not British history you’re watching, there’s just enough separation to truly revel in the amazing thing the actors have created. The Scottsboro Boys is the crowning glory of the diamonds of American musical theater: don’t miss it.

Review – Steel Pier – Union Theater

November 14, 2012

This has really been a great year for Kander and Ebb for me. Not only did I get back to see Chicago, but I managed to see THREE shows by them that haven’t been revived in ages – Flora the Red Menace (originally done in 1965), Curtains (the next to last of their shows, from 2006), and, now, Steel Pier (1997). All of these shows were new for me, and I took the same approach for all of them, of not reading up on them beforehand so I could have the maximum experience.

Steel Pier has a fun premise – a bunch of people are gathered together at a dance marathon in the 1930s, trying to make a little money when there was not a lot to go around. Some of the people have been to a few of these things and know each other; first among these is Rita Racine (Sarah Galbraith), who has a career singing at small carnivals. She winds up dancing with a stunt pilot (Bill Kelly – Jay Rincon) who’s also shown up partnerless; but, as it turns out, she is actually a woman trying to escape her partner, and the shiftless life she’s been leading. Will this dance be her final turn on the stage? Who is the stunt pilot, really? And why do both he and the MC (Mick Hamilton – Ian Knauer) seem so creepy?

It’s fun seeing these shows in the context of the wide body of Kander & Ebb’s work: the strong women characters and dissonant melodies that are present at the very beginning in Flora; the dark look at life and unflattering portrayal of showbiz that runs straight through Cabaret to Curtains. Steel Pier has a lot of the markers of a K&E work. The dancers aren’t the aspirational kids of a 40s musical; most of them are pros who are on the circuit, out to make a buck, and not above using tricks if endurance is not enough. But the whole thing is a gimmick, anyway, just a way for the MC to make himself some money, attract bigger sponsors through trumped up events, and promote his own favorite on his way to even higher realms of celebrity. In some ways, it’s reality TV 1935, but played out on the radio. Ah, delicious cynicism: I love you so!

As performed, Steel Pier is a showpiece for two side characters: the sociopathic, manipulative MC Mick (with his great “power” duet “A Powerful Thing,” performed with his dupe minion); and Shelby Stevens (Aimie Atkinson) the hoofer with a heart of gold who steals the show with the quite crass “Everybody’s Girl,” providing both the pipes and pins to make this number blaze.

Sadly, I was uncompelled by the rest of the drama: neither the sideshows of the various couples failing to make it to the end; or, more critically, the “romance” between Rita and the pilot. Neither she nor he ever really clicked for me as actors or characters. Both seemed wooden and unbelievable; and while stiffness seemed appropriate to the MC, I needed to feel Rita being torn and betrayed. But I never bought it any more than I bought the pilot with his pasted on grin. He just wasn’t real enough for me to believe he was desperately in love with anybody – he seemed to be sleepwalking through it all, albeit while smiling all the way.

Fortunately, there were lots of great songs and fabulous dancing – no shortage of dancing! – to get us from point A to point B, and while I wasn’t sold by the story, I was definitely wowed by the production. In the intimate confines of the Union, to have this many people singing and high kicking was positively electric, so much so that I feel that complaining about the leads seems almost churlish. And there was certainly magic at times, like during the dream/hallucination sequence “Leave the World Behind.” This show is not perfect, but it’s still a good night out and an excellent value, and I recommend it to musicals fans as well as K&E aficionados.

(This review is for a performance seen on Friday, November 9th, 2012. It continues through November 24th.)

Review – Curtains – Landor Pub Theater

August 8, 2012

What? Another Kander and Ebb musical I haven’t seen? That makes two in less than a month – how fantastic! I saw an ad for Curtains when I was at the Landor Theater for Flora the Red Menace and I bought tickets to go see it within about 24 hours. I mean, c’mon! A murder mystery musical … by Kander and Ebb! I was surprised I hadn’t actually had someone knock on my door and direct market it to me, it was so perfectly suited to my tastes.

The night we came, the cast had the kind of electric air you get on opening night (and I think it was press night), all VERY on and broadcasting far beyond the tiny confines of the Landor (there are about four row total and room for about 80-100 in the theater). The stage was set up on the diagonal, so that a curtained proscenium blocked off a small triangle of the stage, creating either a big “front of stage” look for the scenes where we were “watching a show,” but allowing it to change the large space to being “backstage” by moving the props from in front of the curtain to behind (very clever!). Note that because of this, you may get a better overall experience if you sit in the corner area of the audience (the seats are on two sides in an L formation), though there is also enough action right in front of the “curtains” that this may be a matter of opinion. (I sat about the fifth seat in from the door, second row, and was generally happy with my view except for during the dance numbers.)

The story is fairly simple: a group of talented people are performing a show they hope to take to Broadway, and a member of the team is murdered. A detective quickly shows up to figure out “whodunnit,” but in a twist, he is a musical theater fan who decides to devote his efforts to fixing the show as well as fighting crime. So we get to watch the evolution of a musical while listen to the various people deal with their issues with each others (as actors, dancers, composers, producers, etc.) in high “musical” style … while the mystery unfolds. Particularly outstanding were Buster Skeggs as producer Carmen Bernstein (and the fantastic number “It’s a Business”) as well as Bryan Kennedy as director Christopher Belling. I felt like I was sitting in a West End house every time they were on stage – it was fantastic! Unfortunately the two female leads just weren’t able to hold up to this level of quality, but I found myself in a forgiving mood given the enjoyable material.

It’s hard to judge this show well as it is, in part, a musical about a bad musical. So some of the songs are insipid (the “In a Boat” song that is reprised several times) and some of the dancing is really not very good at all (i.e. “Bambi’s big number,” which I thought was heinous but was later referred to as the proof of her genuine talents), but I’m not sure when the not good elements were actually deliberate. Kander and Ebb’s fantastic musical style comes through at many points (and I couldn’t help but feel like I was being referred to in the very clever “What Kind of Man,” which slams theater critcs), but … some of the songs seemed soft when I thought they weren’t supposed to.

Yet, overall, I have to say I came out of this show both full of joy and (eep!) whistling the songs, and _that_ is the yardstick by which I judge success. Not every song has to be a miracle, not every performance needs to be at eleven. Curtains was a great night out, and a damned steal at £20 – one of the shows that makes me feel embarrassed at the riches London offers me for mere pennies.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, August 1st, 2012. It continues through September 1st.)

Mini-review – Flora the Red Menace – Landor Theater

July 11, 2012

Two months ago, in May, I heard of a revival of a Kander and Ebb musical I’d never heard of before – Flora the Red Menace – taking place at a pub way up in Walthamstow. I adore Kander and Ebb, and I was willing to see it by myself and in a location that guaranteed I’d get home around midnight – but I saw a dismissive online review, I saw too many shows in a row, and suddenly I was exhausted and needed a night off (ten shows in nine nights is too much even for me). So I took a pass, figuring I’d listen to a cast recording some time and figure out where the Rose and Crown was some other night.

And then … it was transferred to the Landor Theater. Hurray! It’s only a few Tube stops away from my house so much easier to get to. So I headed over there only to find I’d picked a night the show was dark! Fiddle dee dee, and may I say that changing the website to show available ticket dates starting from the NEXT available date rather than all possible shows would have really helped me not waste a trip.

So now it was a mission, and yesterday I finally made it to the show. I was worried about an incoherent plot (per Wikipedia) and weak performances for the non=leads (per the review I read), but as it turns out I found the play completely coherent and believable – who doesn’t occasionally pick up with a nutty boyfriend in college? I found Flora’s struggle to hold to her ideals while her boyfriend attempted to make her toe the line on communism realistic and easily applicable to, say, religion or any other thing people get fanatical about. And while some of the song and dance numbers didn’t entirely make sense (why did Flora have an arts studio with tap dancers in it? Who cares!), the strength of the music just carried me along in a very pleasant evening. And to make it extra nice, the costuming was way above the level of most pub theater and the hair was just perfect (I wanted to learn how to do the styles).

One thing the other review got right – Katy Baker as Flora was a powerhouse, verging on a Ethel Merman style house-filling personality. And yet her coperformers weren’t slackers (one was very soft), but generally engaging. All in all, this was a good evening that not only gave me an opportunity to see a professional production of a forgotten work by my favorite songwriting team of all time, but did so in a way that made me happy I’d gone. It’s only on for a few more days, so catch it while you can.

(This review is for a performance that took place on July 10th, 2012. It ends July 14th. If you like Kander and Ebb, GO!)

Review – The Scottsboro Boys – Lyceum Theater (New York City)

October 11, 2010

Of all of the shows opening in New York this autumn, the one I was most excited about was Scottsboro Boys. Not Elf, not Pee Wee Herman, not Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – but a (for all intents and purposes) new musical by the brilliant team of Kander and Ebb. I couldn’t wait to have the chance to hear their musicality and wit applied anew (albeit somewhat after the fact given that Ebb died in 2004, leaving the lyrics behind). Frankly, the chance to see this show was a cause for hootin’ and hollerin’ and practically reason enough to support my pilgrimage across the pond to the Great White Way (though I was mostly going to see ballet). Previews were starting the last three days of my visit, and by gum, I was gonna go!

Four days later, I’m still finding it a bit difficult to summarize the show in a review-worthy way. In its offensiveness, it’s right up there with Jerry Springer:The Musical – a show I adored for its high-kicking, multi-racial chorus line of Ku Klux Klansmen at the end of act one. But watching a play that digs so hard at America’s racist past without feeling uncomfortable was pretty much impossible on the face, and add to it shovelfulls of creepy “ole time” images (such as black men in white face and an actor scratching his head like he was a gorilla) with a thick helping of anti-Semitism on top (what was the name of that song, “Don’t Take That Jew Money?”* – not one I’ll be singing at the piano bar any time soon), and you, too, may be asking yourself if this is a show worth sitting through (like the African-American audience woman I queried at the end of the show who was ready to walk after 20 minutes). I had to ask myself: if we support this show as audience members, are we supporting the racist and anti-semitic messages of its characters and of several aspects of the production?

This question is further complicated by the obvious anti-racist message: the whole point of the show is that the nine black men accused of rape in 1930s Alabama were individuals with hopes and dreams, talent and ambition. Our ability to tolerate the evil attitudes of the society surrounding them is somewhat tempered by having all of the roles played by these men (other than the near-invisible “interlocutor”): thus the sherrif who beats them and the women who accuse them are all black men, a situation which, I think, just barely manages to temper the evil words that come out of their mouths. Still, when the Alabama attorney goes on an anti-Northern, anti-Jewish rant … suddenly I was brought back to the history of enmity between these two communities, and I didn’t find it the least bit comic. It was ameliorated by the fact that the character being reviled was quite decent, just as much as his defendents (if clearly suffering from his own superiority and racist issues, per one of his songs), but … nails on a chalkboard, I tell you. Letting the nine men rip apart a song about the sweet old South – and how crappy it really was if you weren’t white – didn’t do enough to sugar over these other vile words.

Being uncomfortable really does seem to be at the heart of this show. The actors were the creme de la creme, and I was thrilled to see, finally, a stage full of black talent (how long has it been?), in a show that really let them show off their skills as performers. The show has great singing, a horrifying (yet well-executed) tap dancing routine, and an execution that lets the actors display their range as they (nearly all) play several roles. I was disappointed that the music didn’t show the lyrical wit of other works by Kander and Ebb …. yet there was no doubt that what I saw was extremely powerful. I’m not familiar with the conceit of a minstrel show, so I can’t say to what extent it held up (or held a warped mirror up to) the tradition.

Still …. when I thnk back on all of the musicals I’ve seen this year, Scottsboro Boys will stand out for many reasons. I’m still out on whether it’s a must-see or better-to-avoid. Yet, as someone who’s dedicated to theater as an art form, I am leaning toward see, because anything that makes me this uncomfortable and sparks as much discussion as this show did is probably better faced and dealt with than avoided.

* Actually the song is called “Financial Advice,” but, like “Dance 10, Looks 3” it’s unlikely to be known by its actual title.

(This review is for a preview performance that took place on October 8, 2010. For another view, see David Finkle’s review in the Huffington Post or Steve On Broadway’s review of the Guthrie production. The show is booking at least through the end of February, 2011. For a deeper analysis of what this show is trying to do, please see Patrick Healy’s New York Times article.)

Mini-review – Blink Twice – Above the Stag

August 2, 2010

While I don’t usually bother with opening nights, the “version two” of last summer’s brilliant Blink! And You Missed It was a show I wanted to catch as soon as it opened. I like musicals more and more as time goes on, and the opportunity to see selected songs from shows that may never be revived could not be passed up. “Blink Twice” (title taken from “It’s a Business,” from the Kander and Ebb show Curtains) delivered everything but the Sondheim, with songs from musicals painful (Martin Guerre, “Live With Somebody You Love”), cultish (Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens’ tunefully brain-damaged “Glitter Boots Saved My Life,” as awful as I remembered, and an earnest song from Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, which I’d never heard of before), and almost-nearly-forgotten (Bad Girls). We had a chance to laugh at people’s arrogance (Moby Dick, seriously, how did that make it out of the … er, dock?), wonder at audience’s ignorance (Grand Hotel, seriously, why did it die?), and bust a gut laughing at some truly great songwriters’ brilliance. To this end, I recommend as the highlight of the show “Take It All Off,” from the presumably dead-and-buried Jerry’s Girls. I don’t wanna ruin the fun for you of it hitting you in the head like a lead filled glove, but afterwards I highly recommend you look for it on YouTube and watch the Israeli drag show version.

Overall, this was a good night out, a great value (as ever) at £14, and unmissable if you’re a hardcore musical theater nut. Really, if my biggest complaint was that the women need to all be wearing sheer-to-waist hose, you gotta realize I had to nitpick to find something that didn’t work for me. Go, enjoy, and come back here and tell me what new song is earwormed for you. For me, it’s “two trampolines would make one good brassiere …”

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, July 29, 2010. It continues through August 22nd.)