Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Jewels of Paris
The Thrillpeddlers theatrical company has been reviving Cockettes musicals since 2009 in its tiny jewel box theater that hides under a freeway across the street from Costco. Starting with their breakout hit, Pearls Over Shanghai, they have been presenting these revivals in collaboration with the composer and lyricist Scrumbly Koldewyn above, who was part of the original late 60s/early 70s glittery, genderfuck hippie group. With Jewels of Paris, which opened last week, Scrumbly has written a new musical revue which is a cause for rejoicing. It very loosely focuses on Paris in the 1920s when Everyone's a Genius in Paree Today, as one of the songs proclaims.
The musical ensembles are all a rousing kick, such as The Jewels of Paris above with Michael Soldier surrounded by lovelies in the fabulous, outre costumes of Birdie-Bob Watt and Tina Sogliuzzo.
Birdie-Bob is one of the many jacks of all trades in the Thrillpeddlers troupe, alternating between onstage stints and being Scrumbly's musical assistant. He may have found his most perfect role ever, as Pierrot, the sad clown of French popular culture. With a shrug and a sigh, he takes us as a shy emcee from musical number to comic skit to torch song.
The three skits written by Rob Keefe, a frequent Thrillpeddlers contributor, were not clever or funny enough, but Bearded Assets was elevated by Bruna Palmeiro above. Playing a circus bearded lady caught en flagrante with her mute, indeterminate-gender lover played by Noah Haydon, she used her voluptuous naked body as a character in and of itself. Later in the show, she sang as Lezmerelda with J. Iness as Quasihomo in a duet that was funny and surprisingly poignant.
The skit by Alex Kinney, Cupid's First Flight was something of a mess, but a fabulous one. It harkened back to part of what was interesting about the Cockettes, the tossed salad of low and lewd mixed with sophisticated and erudite. In this skit, Jupiter (Kim Larsen) and Venus (Lisa McHenry) have just conceived Cupid, winningly embodied by Andrew Darling as the essence of an innocent one-day-old, about to take his first flight with love arrows.
Somehow Cupid ends up at the Comedie Francaise in the household of Moliere whose daughter is pierced by an errant arrow and falls in love with Reynard the Fox, perfectly embodied by Steven Satyricon who is flirting above with Dee Nathaniel as Tercelin the Crow. Having a classical education would probably help in understanding some of the jokes.
The penultimate number involves the entire cast in L'hotel Dungereux, where it is explained that people are no longer coerced into dungeons but pay to experience them.
The players are all in a state of kinky dress and undress, singing liberté, égalité, fraternité while Scrumbly plays a sinister anthem on the synthesizer. It's a strange, sexy and transgressive sequence.
Director and Thrillpeddlers founder Russell Blackwood above announced there would definitely be no extensions to the run which ends on May 2nd so you might want to get some tickets now (click here). It's already a legendary show for Scrumbly's music alone.