Regional Reviews: Seattle
Miss Angie's Blues!
Also see David's review of The Awakening
Prodigious cabaret revue creator/performer Marcus Wolland has offered up many a fun & frolicsome evening of character comedy laced with song, but none to date have reached the zany zenith of the June offering, Miss Angie's Blues!, the funniest cabaret theatre show to hit Seattle since lord knows when!
Wolland's established drag persona, the sassy black senior citizen La Wanda, welcomes all to her cabaret event at the New Orleans based "Marie Leveau's House of Pancakes" (Leveau was a voodoo priestess!) where LaWanda entertains with singer/pianist/chanteuse Miss Angie (the always amazing Angie Louise). Forced to audition a new male singer in place of the man who got away from Miss Angie, they try out the affable but gay as a goose Tristan Waterford (Nick Di Santis). Miss Angie sees him as her new heartthrob, and act one ends in chaos as he is vetoed from the group. In act two, La Wanda's old chum, the rather prim Clotine Garnier (the riotous DiSantis, now in a Church Lady drag), arrives to help restore morale and a sense of sisterhood.
It ain't art, but it sure is inspired silliness and vibrant vocalese. Wolland (who in past shows has appeared as LaWanda in one act and as himself in another) has developed his cross-pollination of Aunt Esther and Moms Mabley to the level of something from Carol Burnett Show heaven (think a soul sister version of Harvey Korman's hilarious Mother Marcus). LaWanda does things to such numbers as "You've Got to See LaWanda Every Night" and especially a funny/frightening "Love For Sale" that could make one laugh to the point of incontinence. Angie Louise, with her Tammy Grimes meets Liza vocal stylings and broken hearted, yet resilient characterization, is a pure pleasure, whether lamenting that "You Took Advantage of Me" or deciding "I Want to Be Bad." These two frequent co-stars are perfectly matched by DiSantis' sublime buffoonery, stage presence and captivating vocals. His highlight solos include "Kiddio" as the fey Tristan, and a very wrong, painfully funny version of "Pet Me Poppa" that might raise giggles from the grave of composer/lyricist Frank Loesser.
Collectively, the talented trio put their own stamp of individuality on every number they warble, from "It Don't Mean A Thing (If You Ain't Got That Swing") to a snazzy "Steam Heat," from a campy take on Irving Berlin's "Sisters" to a heartfelt "Miss Celie's Blues." Thumpers has numerous shows running in its month long gay pride series, but gay, straight or celibate, this is the show to get your summer off to a sizzling start!
Miss Angie's Blues! runs June 18,19, 26 and 27 at 8:30 PM at Thumper's Restaurant & Lounge, 1500 Madison Street. Reservations at 206-328-3800. $12 cover, no minimum, food and drink available.
- David-Edward Hughes