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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Macabaret at NW Actors Studio

Also see David's recent review of Loot

What exactly is Macabaret? It's creepy and it's kooky, sometimes a little spooky, and altogether enjoyable! After being, pardon the pun, buried in some rotten time slots during its try-out run in the Seattle Fringe Festival, this darkly comic musical revue is poised to make a killing in a commercial run at NW Actor's studio.

The fast paced and occasionally fiendishly funny show by NYU Musical Theatre program alumni Scott Keys (composer) and Rob Hartmann (Lyricist) takes place after midnight in a dark theater as a janitor is spooked by such spirited ghouls and deadly dolls as Helena Handbasket, Phil Graves, Paul Bearer, Donna Shroud, Victoria Bledsoe, and pianist Miss Skeleton Keys. They romp through a Charles Addams-ish evening that is always pleasant and sometimes hilarious.

Director Marcus Wolland never lets the fun die down, and the choreography by Kerry Christianson and Jeanette LeGault is jaunty and always raffish. Deanna Schaefer, musical director for this run, has inherited the role of pianist Skeleton Keys, but the rest of the show remains in the capable clutches of the cast seen in the Fringe run.

Show-biz savvy audience members should particularly get a rise out of "Broadway Elegy," in which those Broadway musical revivals that just won't die are given a good thrashing. Director Wolland (as Paul Bearer) has a ghoulishly good time with a ditty about a fella with a "A Thing For King" (as in Stephen), and is the riotous centerpiece of a number called "Cloven Hoofs and Horns." Jeannette LeGault, Loretta Deranleau-Howard, and Kristen Bauman Hurst (as Donna, Victoria, and Helena, respectively) resuscitate the spirit and vocal vivacity of the Andrews Sisters with "Boogie Woogie Boogeymen," and have some killer solo moments, ranging from Baumann Hurst's wacky "Dear Dr. Kervorkian" to Deranleau-Howard's rafters-rousing "Nightmare on Friday the 13th Blues" to LeGault's sultry "Grave Mistake." Shane Noel as Phil Graves launches the Kander & Ebb-like title tune with a properly cadaverous grin and attitude, and teams well with Wolland for a vaudeville turn on "Dead End Job." The whole ensemble shares a rare moment to warble sweet and plaintively on the evening's most musically notable number, "Moon in the Window".

Macabaret, a sort of throwback to old-style original musical revues (it might've been titled Dead Faces of 2002), is the perfect escapist autumn entertainment, and at bargain ticket prices ($8-$10, and $15 for a Halloween weekend double-bill run with the play The Orphan of Greyheart), only a monster could resist.

Macabaret, by Straight-Edge Theatrics at NW Actors Studio's 3rd Floor Cabaret Space, 1100 East Pike at 11th (through November 9). For reservations and information call (206) 632-9800.




- David-Edward Hughes



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