The Overshare Cabaret
It may be as long as ten years ago since I last saw my old friend Mel Delancey on stage. Let’s just say that it was long enough ago that she was still in an improv troupe with her (now ex) husband and their headline act was John Oliver — try and book him nowadays, anybody I know! And I won’t “age” us both by revealing how far we go back, although I can divulge that it was in Ian W. Hill’s adaptation of Ed Wood’s The Violent Years, I believe. Mel and I even had a “making out” scene, although I never actually touched her face, for fear that I would smear my pencil-thin mustache. Anyway, in the years since then, she’s gotten divorced, and gone on 150 failed Tinder dates, which she made a show about and was reported in this NY Post article last year.
After months of good intentions, I finally got over to see her Overshare Cabaret at 13th Street Rep last night, and had a capital time. It is exactly what the name suggests: a cabaret-style variety show, with occasional forays into the embarrassing — usually the sexually embarrassing. It dances around the boundaries in a playful way, but I will say that you’re mighty square indeed if her envelope-pushing is too much for you (although she definitely pushes it).
One thing I particularly love about the show is its raw informality. It is precisely my preferred aesthetic, relaxed, inclusive, friendly and almost family like, and with almost no line at all between the stage and the audience. My bete noir is technology in the theatre, and I especially hate microphones and amplifiers which to my mind separate performers from audience in an intrusive way. In Mel’s show, performers are unplugged and lettin’ it all hang out, right over there. Things they are not: perfect, artificial, soulless, song production superhuman gymnasts. Things they are: funny, charming, lovable, accessible, natural.
Last night’s theme was “Shame and Scandal” and was co-hosted by Amy Overman, who sort of played Ed McMahon to Mel’s Johnny (now I’m definitely dating myself), and also drank real or pretend vodka by the tumblerful, and recited Edna St. Vincent Millay poems. The show opened on a strong note with Mel’s rewritten version of “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks (the jist of which can be gleaned from the fact that the recurring verse-ending word “follow” is here replaced with “swallow”). Other treats included our own Bob Laine, doing a crazy acid fueled monologue. I’d heard that he used to do these monologues years ago, but in all this time I’d never heard one. It did not disappoint, as it was hilarious, crazy and profound in its way all at the same time. We got to meet Mel’s sister Jennifer Delancey who also sang on the bill…aas well aas her old high school friend “Goobs”, who sang “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend” by The Mr. T. Experience...the HIGHLY entertaining Evelyn Sullivan pulled off (pulled out?) the evening’s most polished all around performance in a turn that included great patter, vocals, comic chops, and (miraculously) male full frontal…Katelyn Bailey sang Gilda Radner’s “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”…Bryanna Tyson and Peter Graham sang Kander and Ebb’s “Money” from Cabaret …and the whole cast sang Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”. This was just some of it.
They’re doing it again tomorrow (September 10) and the show returns in new editions with new casts every month. To stay in the Mel Delancey loop, go here.
This entry was posted on September 9, 2016 at 11:04 am and is filed under Comedy, Contemporary Variety, CRITICISM/ REVIEWS, Indie Theatre, PLUGS, Singers, Singing Comediennes with tags 13th Street Rep, Mel Delancey, Overshare Cabaret, review. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.