Theater — It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease

By Abid Shah

Cabaret De Boheme’s summer program at Fody’s Tavern sure to be a treat

Perhaps cabaret is no longer a popular art form because it is heavily invested in words.

The songs have those catchy lyrics that we all sing, sigh, and dance to but a cabaret performance requires more concentration from the audience. There are elaborate story lines, inside jokes and each performer is a character with a life.

That was the sense at the Hilton Nashua premier of Cabaret De Boheme’s summer lineup, also the company’s first anniversary, where Le Boheme presented new material for the next three months.

The show is entertaining, but interestingly, the most memorable performance of the evening was Bobbi (Brendan Mallard) in drag. In a hilarious costume, ad-libbing to Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” Mallard steals the show with an impersonation as a man/woman in heat. Not needing to concentrate on words, the audience can relax and enjoy the physical exaggerations of Mallard’s costumed mama. 

But mama is everywhere in Le Boheme’s repertoire for the summer, as the program seems to run through the songs of Chicago, the musical.

Anastaia (Jennifer Mallard) does a good “When You Are Good to Mama,” memorably played by Queen Latifah in the 2002 movie. While she lacks Latifah’s frame, she creates her own version, relatively understated, of a woman demanding subservience.

Bibi, on the other hand, controls the stage with his big frame and especially plays a rake with relish and ability.  In one memorable scene, Bibi is fawned over by six women, reinforcing the stereotypical cabaret image (with of course, drag).

Bibi’s onstage partner is Lolli (Elizabeth Perrin, who with Mallard is the other permanent member of the group).

They have great chemistry and, probably because of experience, rule the stage together.

There are good performances from the secondary characters in this cabaret, most noticeably by Frankie (Ben Hart) who with a walking stick and a dapper attitude is the most “British” of the cast.

With the sisters Gracie and Gigi (Bethany Cassidy and Kellie Haigh), Frankie does one memorable act, a kettle song, which plays up the life of the 1800s working-class British: shoveling coal and pouring oil.

Here too, it is not the actual singing, the warbling of lyrics, that makes a difference, it is the exaggerated physical gestures of shoveling, pouring, and yes, whistling like a kettle, that make the song stick out.     

It is in these older songs that cabaret has its roots, and the De Boheme company do ample justice to their inspiration. Their summer program on Fridays and Saturdays at Fody’s Tavern is a treat, first to appreciate how our culture has changed, and, second, for a good night out.

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