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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

A Tunefully Ribald Risqué Bizness!
at Thumpers Oak Room

Also see David's review of The Mystery of Irma Vep

Risque Business

Cabaret performers Marcus Wolland and Cheryl Serio love pop music and are not afraid of embracing the good, the bad and the ugly in the scintillatingly silly new show Risqué Bizness at Thumpers Oak Room. The show is naughty, yet not lewd, and affords the zany pair some opportunities for character work, in addition to some more or less straight-faced renditions of some vintage tunes.

In a sprightly paced 80 minutes plus intermission, Risqué Bizness! offers medleys aplenty, from diverse sources. The show opener "Let's Talk about Sex," for instance, was introduced by the near-forgotten duo Salt-N-Pepa. "Songs of Infidelity" takes in "Sad to Belong," the mawkish "Torn Between Two Lovers," and Ray Parker, Jr.'s The Other Woman." As part of an "Under Age Medley," Serio out-schmaltz's Doris Day and Wolland wails hysterically through Gary Puckett and The Union Gap's "Young Girl." Then the pair push the limits of taste with comedic abandon with a "Fetish Medley" (including "Voyeur and "Master and Servant") and then push even harder and funnier with "Songs of Erectile Dysfunction," featuring "Cape Canaveral Blues" and (of course) Manilow's "Trying to Get the Feeling Again."

As act one winds down we meet Serio's alter ego, Aunt Acid, who dresses like Phyllis Diller and sings like Mrs. Miller, and she brings down the house in the "Raunchy Rawk" medley with a sweet little AC/DC ditty, "Big Balls." Wolland returns successfully to his Aunt Esther-ish drag persona, Miz La Wanda Dupree, throughout act two, starting with a provocative version of Porter's "Let's Do It" with Serio, then vamping the crowd with a retooled version of the Kander and Ebb Chicago crowd pleaser "When You're Good to LaWanda." Whereas Wolland is more the comic actor/singer, Serio is a vocalist first, and pleasingly so on the obscure but jazzy Hugh Martin number "An Occasional Man," and reviving the Ann-Margret hit "Thirteen Men." Other act two high points abound, with Wolland/LaWanda a hoot on "The Gay Young Man From Trinidad," and Serio really hitting a comic peak on a version of Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical," which has to be heard to be believed. Finally, there is a smashing finale of "Songs for Women of Ill-Repute," which takes in the Tina Turner classic "Private Dancer," the ever insipid "I've Never Been to Me," and Wildhorn's "Bring On The Men."

Pianist Hans Brehmer offers solid support to the pair, and all the show needed as of opening night was for Serio to really let her Aunt Acid character be as zany throughout as she is in the "Physical" number. At a $10 cover (with food & drink extra) Risqué Bizness! makes for a great escapist evening.

Risqué Bizness!, a Girl Friday/Straight-Edge Theatrics presentation. runs Friday and Saturdays at 8:30 PM, through May 14 at Thumpers, 1500 East Madison at 15th on Capitol Hill. For reservations call (206) 326-6500.


Photo: Art Anderson



- David-Edward Hughes



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