Sunday, October 12, 2014

Theatre: Razz-Mah-Taz

The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales, Seattle Rep through November 2

The Seattle Rep kicks of its new season with a musical revue. Such revues are not ususual for the Rep, but are usually tucked deeper into the schedule and sail safer waters in subject matters. Storytellers with accordion accompanists, old railroad songs, union songs from the depression. This one, not so much. It is an oddball little revue of the new dressed up as the old.

Here's the central conceit - two vaudevillains (Monsoon and Scales) have been frozen in ice since an ill-fated tour of the Antarctic, but have been freed by global warming and now perform their greatest hits, which later artists have covered without crediting them. So we get pop music from the 70s up, all performed in the Tin Pan alley Style.

And where it works, it amuses greatly, though for those of us who learn about new music only when Weird Al does the parody, yeah, its a bit of an uphill struggle. Why yes, I get "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "I Will Survive", but I don't know all the lyrics to "Piece of My Heart" and don't know the rap that Scales leads the post intermission with (which was bloody brilliant, and I really should figure out what it was satirizing).

In fact, the entire conceit is a bit strange, aimed at an audience that both knows Britny Spears and can appreciate a good Madame Curie joke. That said, the audience was appreciably younger (and thankfully more athletic) than the standard greybeards (who are the ones who get the Ibsen jokes, by the way).

Jinkx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer) as Kitty Witless tears through the material like her proverbial sobriquet (that is, like a tropical typhoon). Channeling in equal turns Kathy Griffin and Harley Quinn with a dash of Medea, Jinkx swings through the material like a seasoned trooper of the era, dropping bon mots and cozying up to the audience (warning - there is audience participation here - if you're shy about it, head for the balcony).

Major Scales (Richard Andriessen) as Doctor Dan Van Dandy keeps up with Monsoon on the piano, though Monsoon has the stronger and more precise voice, even with the mikes equalizing them. Scales/Andrieseen/Van Dandy does a lot of support work here, but excels at that post-intermission solo rap in full tux and tales that would turn Fred Astaire a little bit green with envy.

And let me digress into the nature of intermissions here - such is always a risk, since some people who step out for a smoke or a bathroom break just keep on going through the exit doors. OK, that comes with territory. But five seats in the center of the theater, dead center, suddenly going empty? During an hour and half revue? You folk just hate theatre. The Lovely Bride and I have stuck out much more questionable material over the years. And we're talking puppet shows, here. Anyway, you wet old biscuits missed a better second half than the Seahawks delivered Sunday afternoon.

OK, back on subject. Yeah, it is irreverent and weird and trippy and don't try to tack it down too much to its original conceit. It is a loud, brassy broad of a performance. Yeah, go see it.

More later,