I wish every Saturday evening ended in juggling, magic tricks, dancing, and gaudy singing. But, on this special occasion, I got to watch professionals and spare myself embarrassment of actually attempting these feats. The sold-out Saturday Fringe crowd went coo-coo for Cabaret CooCoo! Despite the declaration, “Vaudeville died. Cabaret CooCoo lives on,” the spirit of Vaudeville is alive and preserved in this fresh and hilarious variety showcase.
I am such a sucker for shtick, and this play has it a-plenty. Cabaret CooCoo is a parody of its own gimmicks which makes the audience gluttonous for more. The mood is set for a 1940s Cabaret in the beautiful venue at “The Mountain” as the Cigarette Girls (later turned Hotsy Totsy Dancers) peddle fare to the boisterous patrons awaiting the show. A selection of jazz and folk favorites (cheerful songs of The Great Depression) charm the audience before the comedy of disasters begins.
While the show is refreshingly entertaining, there are moments of lackluster energy, sucking the humor out of the delivery. The “who’s supposed to be doing what?” bit becomes stale with repetition and long periods of staged confusion. However, the play thrives on keen physicality and eccentric characters. The more bizarre the performance of the actor, the more it resonates humor. The show really picks up steam as it casts an infectiously amusing musical spell over the audience.
I hesitate to point to any single performer who steals the show; rather, the cast collectively forms a dynamic ensemble of strange, bumbling, tragically deluded, and endearing entertainers. I commend Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Nick Newlin, Karen Beriss, Maia DeSanti, Gwen Grastorf, Hannah Nielsen-Jones, and Scott Burgess on fine performances.
Cabaret CooCoo will leave you smiling and cheering for more!