At the crossroads of Adams Morgan and Dupont, L’Enfant Café spills candlelight and savory aromas onto the street corner. Tureens of onion soup and buttery mussels steam up the snug little bistro, a couple tug on the loose ends of a mountain of French fries like they’re playing Janga. It’s an Old-World date spot that toes the line between romance and cheese without crossing it. All that’s needed to complete the scene is a torch singer and some jazz guitar.
Enter Special Agent Galactica. The drag avatar of performance artist Jeffrey Johnson struts to the front of the restaurant in a lacy frock and glitter-encrusted heels. Galactica is a D.C. cabaret staple, known for appearances at Fringe and a standing engagement at the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont.
Galactica’s latest act is a revue here at L’Enfant Cafe alongside esteemed guitarist Peter Fields. The duo presents a shamelessly eclectic repertoire of jazz standards, rock classics, and character kitsch, all unified by the whirling acoustic arrangements of Mr. Fields. Light-hearted and sexy ditties like “Hurry on Down to my House” and “Making Love Alone” are offset by songbook standards like “Fever” and “The Gentleman is a Dope.”
Galactica’s aesthetic is equal parts camp and class — with one foot rooted in the earthy reality of drag, she pushes the limits of the form with moments of genuine drama. Galactica’s immaculate timing carries over from her witty banter to unique and rhythmic interpretations of familiar tunes. Tales from Galactica’s life as an unlucky-in-love secret agent are interspersed with the music. The artist’s background as an actor and director shine through here. The clever stories add a layer of fascinating by weaving subtext into each song.
Jazz aficionados may wince when Galactica tackles beloved standards that are a stretch for her vocal technique, but I find that the imperfections are an important part of the show. When it comes to music, drag performers usually lip-sync or at most belt out a bawdy joke song. The artist does something quite interesting here by never apologizing for Galactica’s male voice. Whatever is lost in terms of technical prowess, Galactica more than makes up for with engaging and nuanced delivery. Peter Fields’ virtuoso guitar playing props up Galactica’s theatrical experiment, providing a foundation of first-rate jazz music for the entire evening. With commanding solos that captured the attention of L’Enfant Cafe, Fields expert accompaniment takes the show to the next level.
Jeffrey Johnson performs:
Edie Beale LIVE @Reno Sweeney
2000 18th ST NW
Washington, DC 20009.
Nov 17 – Dec 3
Special Agent Galactica and Peter Fields
61 Christopher Street, NYC
Jan 24, 2014
The highlight of the evening is the duo’s rendition of “The Boy From…,” a parody of “The Girl From Ipanema” with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The song’s Latin flair allows Fields to show off his skill as a classical guitarist, while Galactica makes a hilarious monologue from the lyric in which a clueless dame admires an obviously-homosexual Spaniard. The number draws on each of performer’s strength–it’s saturated with camp, class, and musical adroitness.
Special Agent Galactica’s engagement with Peter Fields at L’Enfant Cafe is over for now, but the duo performs at other venues, including Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington and plans to return to L’Enfant Café eventually. Meanwhile, they have an engagement January 24th
And while he plans to leave Ms. Galactica at home, the artist Jeffrey Johnson is reprising his performance as a different dame in Edie Beale LIVE @Reno Sweeney, opening at L’Enfant Cafe on November 17. Jeffrey will step into the shoes of Kennedy-cousin Little Edie in a reenactment of her infamous 1978 cabaret performance. This time, Edie Beale LIVE @Reno Sweeney will have nine performances.
Humor? Check. Music? Check. Romantic bistro? Check. In a night out at L’Enfant Cafe, you’ll want to stay a while before saying “Check, please.”
This performance of Special Agent Galactica and Peter Fields was seen October 20, 2013.
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