Despite yesterday’s oppressively nasty weather, the Mad Marchioness and I finally shook off our summertime torpor last night and poked our heads out into the world. It’s been months since we’ve done such a thing, and as often happens after such a hiatus, we stacked a bunch of activities into a single evening, helped along by convenient geography.
First we went to the Slipper Room for a sneak peek at Jonny Porkpie’s new silent movie themed burlesque revue, The Stripteaser, featuring himself, Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Fancy Feast, Bastard Keith, Fem Appeal, Patrick Davis, and Polly Wood. It’s duly hilarious and we will be going back to see it again with all the bells and whistles tomorrow night. You should too! Info and tickets are here.
Next we ate large piles of food at Phebe’s (without an “o”, never put an “o”), where we ran into performer Ione Lloyd, on her way to something at New York Theatre Workshop, I think she said.
Whereas, we were on our way to LaMama, for the launch event for their new downstairs theatre space. If I am counting correctly this is their fourth playing space, essentially a blackbox (in this case a brick box), brand spanking new and shiny on their basement level. Congrats to them! For an institution to still be vibrant and growing at this age! We saw artistic director Mia Yoo, producing director Beverly Petty, Cathy Shaw from the box office, and:
Nicky Paraiso of the Club at La Mama, and Linda Chapman, Associate Artistic Director at NYTW
Then finally, the climax of the evening, Mad Jenny and the Society Band’s debut at Pangea. I had the terrifying realization last night that I have known, admired and worked with this performer for almost NINE years. Where that time went, I have no idea, but I felt like I saw it all in her performance last night, ideas she has been talking about and planning and trying out here and there over a long period — with this show as the glorious culmination.
With her beautiful singing voice, her clown training, her command of German, and her sharp sophisticated mind, this is a show only SHE could have put together (with her collaborators of course, but who but she could star in this act?). It’s almost all Berlin cabaret material, by the likes of Brecht, Weill, Eisler and many others. Because her command is so encyclopedic and curated with such vision and focus the repertoire is much more esoteric than the usual “Weimar’s greatest hits” approach most performers tend to take when they attempt this kind of material. The one tune I knew was the “Barbara Song” from Threepenny, although in a different translation from the one I know best (the from the 1954 Broadway production.) Oh yes and she threw in a Eurythmics song which I vaguely recognized. I won’t tell you what she does with props in the show, because that would spoil lots of wonderful surprises, but among the many treats on the song list is a gay-pride anthem from 1921 called “The Lavender Song”, a 1928 abortion song, and a great feminist number from 1931 called “Chuck All the Men”. It’s not all political, but these stuck out — they’re almost a century old….and wow, they still need to be sung, a fact which is stunning, and damning. But, really, the show was all highlights. When it was over, no one wanted to stop clapping or even let her go. She got two encores, and really the audience still wanted more after that. She’s already got more shows booked, but something tells me a proper long run will be in order once word gets around. People will want to see this and see this again. I would gladly go again already! To get more info on Mad Jenny and her upcoming shows go here.