The Bawdy Brilliance of 'The Vaudevillians' at Seattle Rep
Somewhere between the catchy throwback pop numbers, countless double entendres, mountain of cocaine jokes, and jittery bug eyed takes, it becomes oddly evident: The Vaudevillians is one of the most precisely honed shows to grace the Seattle stage this year. The Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of Jinx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer) and Major Scales's (Richard Andriessen) raunchy drag cabaret revue has been perfected over the past three years and the work the duo has put in shows. It’s the wildest a night of theatrical entertainment of the fall.
Scales and Monsoon respectively play Doctor Dan Von Dandy and his wife Kitty Witless, Vaudevillian stars from 1920s that were frozen during an Antarctic tour and just thawed out, making them "the hottest act ever frozen alive." The show’s catch is that while they were trapped in layers of ice, scores of performers stole their original songs and made them into pop hits. Now they’ve returned to play those songs in their original Vaudeville style. With Scales manning the piano keys and Monsoon taking most of the lead vocal duties while showcasing high-heeled dance moves (with intentionally varied levels of grace), they rip though riotous renditions of tunes like Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and Brittney Spears’s “Toxic.” Thanks to Scales's clever musical arrangements and Monsoon's impressive pipes, each number hits unexpected new notes.
It’s fitting that the show begins with a rendition of “Anything Goes,” as it serves as a warning of what’s to come. Those easily offended best stay at home. The humor in Kitty and the doctor’s rapid-fire banter is uncouth, unrelenting, and uproariously funny. The superbly sharp writing and delivery gives a natural flow to the endless onslaught of off-color jokes about everything from Marie Curie to Kitty’s carnal desires. They also play up the physical humor with flailing dance moves, broad expressions of facial frustration, and the doctor having to jolt Kitty back to reality when her musical training fails and she gets stuck in a rut like a broken record. Monsoon is the comedic force of nature ravaging though the performance with every eye roll, deep pseudo-demonic outburst, and sexual advance at an audience member, and Scales aptly plays the (relative) straight man to keep her in check. The audience interaction clearly helps to keep every show fresh, as Moonsoon wanders out into the crowd on multiple occasions searching for unsuspecting victims for Kitty to delightfully torment with impromptu flirtations and tongue-lashings.
After its humble beginnings in local hole-in-the-wall spots around town three years ago, it’s great to see The Vaudevillians receive a grand staging at the Rep. Both Monsoon and Scales have mastered the intricacies of these crazy characters, and it’s a blast to go along for the wild ride.
Thru Nov 2, Seattle Reperotry Theatre, $37–$57