Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

The Greatest Showqueen!
Dorothy's Piano Bar / Unicorn Cabaret and Bar
Review by David Edward Hughes

Also see David's review of West Side Story

Tom Orr
Photo by K. Art Cardinal
Pre-Randy Rainbow/post-Gerard Alessandrini, an out and proud gay parodist named Tom Orr struck quite a chord by writing and performing in a show called Dirty Little Showtunes! and several sequels and "best of" versions in San Francisco and Seattle, and in major cities across the U.S. Long away from Seattle venues, Orr has now returned to Seattle with the very entertaining autobiographical cabaret The Greatest Showqueen!, encompassing not only hits from Dirty Little Showtunes! but those from his one-man shows, and also political satire aimed at Trump and company.

Starting off with a bang, Orr appears in a Norma Desmond-style turban (think Mandy Patinkin as Norma, but bearier) to slam Andrew Lloyd Webber with a quickie twist on "As If We Never Said Goodbye" before some numbers that showcase his lyrical parody skills at their best, including The Greatest Showman's "A Million Dreams," "Queen Like Me" (to the tune of Aladdin's "Friend Like Me"), and the quintessential Broadway sing-along "No Time At All," winking at Orr's current day job ("time to start Lyfting!"). The mellow, light vocal sound that always allowed him to toss off vocal bon mots so easily has grown in depth and force over the years, especially evident in "Another Hundred T-Cells" (one of the three or four best ever written for Dirty Little Showtunes).

Stand-outs in the new political material are "Mayor Pete" ("Easy Street"), the hilarious "Melania Regrets" ("Miss Otis Regrets"), the predictable "Donald Trump" ("Be Our Guest"), and a pungent "Ladies Who March!" ("Ladies Who Lunch")—preview material destined for a full-cast political revue by Orr. A splendid reprise and revision of his own Gilbert & Sullivan-inspired "Modern Homosexual" is a super crowd pleaser, and "When I Am a Rich Man" shows this artist at his most loving and appreciative.

Orr is ably directed by Marie Ruzicka, and musical director John Lehrack's knowledgeable skills are clearly apparent, with a big hand to the last minute sub-accompanist who filled in for Lehrack at the performance seen. Trimming the show down to a tight 75-90 minutes with intermission would help, and could be best achieved by Orr trimming his patter and relaxing into it more; condensing/cutting a few tunes might be the answer, as remounts of this by popular demand seem likely. The bare bones nature of the presentation (and terrible sound system) at Unicorn Bar and Cabaret indicate a clear lack of support by the venue, as Orr and his costume designer fairy godmothers keep his wardrobe looks campy and sparkly bright, as well as quick-changing.

Tom Orr calls this show The Greatest Showqueen! with most of his tongue in cheek (or chic), and he delights in spreading R-rated joy every moment he's in the spotlight. That's TomOrrtainment!

The Greatest Showqueen!, through June 23, 2019, at Unicorn Bar and Cabaret, 1118 Pike St. at 12th, on Capitol Hill, Seattle WA. Performances are on Sundays: 5pm door, 6pm curtain. For information and tickets, call 415-374-5625 or visit