There’s a racket ascending on New York Avenue over the debut buzz of Fringe Festival, and the happy hour buzz of Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar. There are bass and guitar riffs and crash rides, and voices who want to know one thing: Who are you? Cabaret XXXY is making a gorgeously musical racket, and they’re not going to let you off the hook without an answer.
From Pinky Swear Productions, directed by Ryan Maxwell, comes a musical cabaret, made for those not of the faint of the heart or those opposed to some serious rhythm. Allyson Harkey and Karen Lange serve as the ringleaders of the nights events, asking audience members to confess their deepest secret to a piece of paper and throw it in the fishbowl. Spoiler: They will be fished out and delivered dead pan as the night goes on. Be creative, folks.
The band (Christopher Herring, Felix Pages, Jacob Smith, Robert Wilson) is propped at the back of a proscenium stage, decked out in true rock cabaret fashion surrounded by chairs and church pews, and dressed as school boys gone rogue . They’re solid, and set the rock-score mood music as the audience pours in. We’re soon introduced to the other members of the musical crew: Maureen Boman, Laura Esti Miller, and Clarissa Barton. They sing. They dance. They tease the audience.
Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are?
by the cast and Steve Spotswood
at Fort Fringe – Baldacchino Gypsy Tent
607 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
The production covers a multitude of rock and pop classics, initially offering banter and jokes between the pieces. All of the women have been deemed “two adjectives and a noun” to fulfill a need of the show. But is that for the best? They ask. The “good girl,” the “dramaturge” the “new girl,” the “producer,” and the “bitch” work out their Jean-Val-Jean “Who am I?” issues while singing and dancing to songs like, “I’m Just A Girl” and “You Don’t Know Me”.
The night’s strongest moments come later in the piece, so while the cabaret begins with laughs and skits, it settles into some solid musical performances. Barton’s “I’m Not A Virgin Anymore,” is sexy and skillful, while Harkey’s “Creep” slows the evening to an unexpected pause from the shimmying. The audience may have drinks in their hand, but at times, just might be grabbing for their tissues. And please be prepared to experience one heck of a rock mashup and fabulous costume change.
Cabaret XXXY is loud and unapologetic, and there a few real musical talents on that stage. You won’t leave disappointed, and you won’t leave bored. You’ll leave singing “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen. Can a night end on any better note?
Note: This show is not for anyone under the age of 21. (They check ID’s at the door.)