Regional Reviews: Seattle
Dirty Little Showtunes! - Unplugged
In the late 1990s, a frisky Seattle Times theatre critic at large by the name of Tom Orr wowed the Seattle Fringe theatre scene with his bawdy Broadway parody revue Dirty Little Showtunes! in two sold-out runs at Rebar. Though the show actually originated (and was similarly successful) in San Francisco, and subsequently played other cities, Orr himself was especially fond of the Seattle versions, and Puget Sound audiences have been clamoring for a new edition.
Gaydar Theatre company's version of the show Dirty Little Showtunes! - Unplugged at Thumpers Oak Room is not a new collection of Orrified Broadway musical numbers. Content wise, it recycles many of the biggest crowd pleasers from the earlier editions, plus perhaps a couple not heard locally before. Director/cast member Marc Willis and a troupe of (mostly) Gaydar veterans exuberantly sell Orr's lyrics, which stand up well nearly a decade after Seattle originally heard them. The show is truly a team effort, punctuated by stand out solos and duets. Sassy Jay Irwin takes a winning Rex Harrison meets Noel Coward approach to "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Homosexual" and steals the spotlight in the process. The cast's strongest vocalist Buddy Mahoney, though oddly deprived of a solo number of his own, stands out in a pair of duets "Bossy Bottoms" (otherwise known as "Bosom Buddies" from Mame), in which he is paired with Gaydar newcomer Dan Duwe, and in the well-crafted "Unworthy of Your Sons" ("Unworthy of Your Love") with the charmingly campy Greg Bowman. Bowman shines brightly in his solo "Somewhere That's Pink" (derived from a certain Little Shop of Horrors classic), and the sweet-faced Jacob Mahoney offers a vivacious, wide-eyed version of "Daddy is A Boy's Best Friend", in striking contrast to Orr's own randier original cast performance. And, happily, pianist/musical director Mikel Poulsen is allowed a moment away from the ivories to deliver a priceless "I'm So Over the Rainbow."
The ensemble numbers really take off, from a phone sex version of a Bye Bye Birdie camp classic, here called "The Telephone Minute," to the just plain fun of "Showqueens" (to the tune of Lerner and Loewe's "Show Me") and the anthem "Stonewall" ("Ragtime"). Orr errs a bit with an overly earnest re-write of the Sideshow ballad "Who Will Love Me As I Am" performed with sincerity by Marc Willis, and though Willis, Bowman, and Duwe have the right take on "At the Bathhouse" ("At the Ballet") it is perhaps the number from the original show that hasn't aged very well.
The Thumpers stage is tiny, especially for a cast of seven, so there isn't much in the way of choreography, and the same goes for costuming, which was apparently not a Gaydar budgetary consideration. The show is just about an hour, and that feels too short, despite the old adage about leaving your audience wanting more. But the sell-out crowds are loving Orr's affectionate, ribald humor, and many of those in attendance may well not have seen the '90s versions. Still, it would be nice to see an all-new DLST in town. Seussical, The Full Monty, Wicked and so many other shows are just crying for a sprinkling of Orr's lyrical fairy-dust.
Dirty Little Showtunes! - Unplugged runs Sunday only at Thumpers, 1500 East Madison Street on Capitol Hill. All seats are $12, with pre-show dining. cocktails and desserts available. For reservations call (206) 328-3800.- David-Edward Hughes