The Geekenders choosing to tackle the subject of Batman is like agreeing to be critiqued by Tinder standards, there is really only a maximum of two reactions.
With The Uncaped Crusaders: A ‘Batlesque’ Tribute to Batman looking down the barrel of ‘amazing’ or ‘worst-show-ever’ (Minus a geek point if not read in the voice of the Comic Book Shop Guy), how would the self described ‘nerdlesque’ troupe fair with such auspicious subject matter?
The show started with the introduction of a trio of hosts for the evening, Harley Quinn (Katherine Alpen), Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (Andrew Lynch), and Dr. Jervis Tetch aka The Mad Hatter (Andrew Wade). This would mark the last use of conventional names like Katherine or Andrew, because only in burlesque are the performer names more delightfully ridiculous than the characters from comic books they set out to portray.
Sasha Smolders was welcomed to the stage for the evening’s first performance. Clear from the onset, Smolders’ approached to the role of The Penguin came from a much more visually compelling place compared to host Andrew Lynch (unless you have the look of a thin gentleman smuggling grandma’s collection of throw pillows under his shirt?).
Exceeding the hype and hotter than smouldering the performer’s self-given matronymic is an accurate descriptor when factoring in the Smoulder’s dancing abilities. Performing to the Pink Floyd hit “Money”, the song’s titled matched the overall sentiment in the crowd.
In between each act saw the obligatory insistence of a love story. Despite Tetch being a titch overzealous in his desire to gain the attention of Harley Quinn, he would have to be as mad as a hatter if he believed he could steal The Joker’s / Poison Ivy’s ‘puddin’ away from them.
Second up, the radiant Effie Alexandra strutted in and dominated the Rio Theatre stage. With elaborate face makeup facilitating the easy recognition of Dr. Jonathan Crane, the stunning Alexandra’s makeup was not so overdone that it could conceal the fact that next to Cillian Murphy, Alexandra is the prettiest Scarecrow around.
How broken must the education system be that yet another doctor in the long line of villains with PhD’s was next in the Batlesque program? The common murmuring amidst The Rio Theatre audience felt that Scout Starling is way too hot to be Freeze.
Made lovable for the last generation by the Mr. Universe take on the character, Governor Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the cold-hearted villain had nothing on the endearing Starling’s saucy Dr. Victor Fries.
First appearing as Mr. Zero (Mx Zero), Starling’s execution was all 10’s as the super-villain with the most romantic origin story. Still no word as to how Dr. Victor Fries lost his doctorate with the passing of his beloved Nora; having gone from Dr. Fries to Mr. Freeze.
The single disappointing aspect of Starling’s heated performance was the missed opportunity to incorporate the titular track from Vanilla Ice’s feature film debut Cool As Ice. Instead electing to present to Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice”.
One of the strongest bits from the trio of hosts came after Scout Sterling’s breathtaking routine:
Harley Quinn: You better go buy more groceries…so you can get more Air Miles…So you can go on vacation…so you can get drinks that have little umbrellas in it…cause it’s cold…cause it’s frozen.
Cobblepot: You have a degree? (Referring to Harley Quinn’s degree in psychology. Incidentally a degree that was obtained not by retaining the education she received at the prestigious psych department at the Gotham State University, but by seducing the head professor)
Harley Quinn: Yeah, you know what you got? Zero degrees. Because it’s cold (frozen).
Tetch: And a mere 90 degrees would bring you to me. (his continued efforts to woo Harley)
Cobblepot: I haven’t seen something bomb this hard since my exploding shark. (Referring to the 1966 film adaptation of the Adam West / Burt Ward Batman television series called Batman:The Movie. In the opening scene of the campy classic the late Burgess Meredith as The Penguin concocts the ingenious plan of baiting the Caped Crusader to land on his boat. Dangling from the rope ladder of the Bat-Helicopter, it is revealed at the last second that the boat was actually a hologram of sorts. Robin accidentally then drops The Bat into the water, making the boat not being there a godsend, for the Boy Wonder’s (lack of) pilot skills would have surely resulted in the crippling of the World’s Greatest Detective. Once in the water a mechanical shark grabbed ahold of Batman’s leg. The Penguin would have gotten away with it (the caper) too, if it were not for Batman’s very specific request of ‘shark repellent’ which incidentally is one in the line of many Bat Sprays. Thankfully, Alfred had the foresight to pack the needed spray in the very stock-helicopter looking Bat-Helicopter. Whereby a rusty Dick Grayson looked absolutely nothing like a ‘Flying Grayson’ with his dainty handoff of the spray to The Dark Knight. After several unsuccessful but stern combinations of hooks and hammer fists to the body of the monster, Bats sprayed the mechanical shark with the repellent. The shark then fell to the ocean where it inexplicably exploded. Why a shark repellent would work on a robot? We will never know).
In the first duo act Seamus Fit-It-In and Kitty Glitter slipped into the rolls of The Ventriloquist and Scarface (the dummy).
Kitty Glitter displayed very impressive gesticulating and puppet-like movements combined with impressive facial mugging that truly sold the bit. Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” accompanied the Geekenders finally putting on Front Street what we assumed all along, the Ventriloquist makes out with that puppet.
Selecting the 1977 Bee Gees classic “Stayin’ Alive” and transitioning to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (when she is damn sure he won’t) for a bit on Jason Todd proves the rookie burlesque performer has a mischievous streak.
Displaying an attitude unexpected of a performer in her first routine, Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutts took the stage like a veteran.
In fact, Starbutts displayed the kind of attitude Frank Miller wrote into his Robin, Carrie Kelley. More so than Jason Todd or Robin-turned-Batgirl Stephanie Brown, if the Geekenders look at a repeat performance Stabutts shoud petition for the Carrie Kelley Robin monikor.
It’s curious that of the six prominent Robins available to the Geekenders, they decided on the three males over any one of the three females that have stood beside The Bat.
Hot on the heels of her outstanding performance of “Little Red Corvette” in the Prince Burlesque Tribute, Rebel Valentine doubled as dancer and singer again Friday.
With that sideways glint in the eyes of everyone who takes the role of the Crown Prince of Crime, Valentine slowly unhinged, as The Joker undressed. Singing “A Criminal Mind” by Canadian icon Gowan, Valentine revealed a brief view inside her mind. A mind that just like the Jester of Genocide, shows an underlying extra-intelligence as unstable as it is impressive.
It was hard not to consider Bruce Wayne’s reaction upon hearing the news of his ward Tim Drake with Conner Kent. Drake, as played by Ryan Caron threw caution to the wind as well as himself at The Boy of Steel, with whom he began canoodling.
A move that will only drive the Dark Knight deeper into his never-ending comparison of himself to the aliens from Krypton. Upon finding out that the torrid affair was to the Mariana’s Trench song “Toy Soldiers”, and not even the Martika song by the same name may well send Master Wayne over the edge.
The most recent Orchid Club show at The Fox Cabaret saw the woman with many wondrous skills Trixie Hobbitses melt the projection room as Princess Diana of Themyscira. Friday Hobbitses stayed within the walls of the DC Universe essaying the role of Pamela Isley. Garnering the loudest audience screams on the night, Hobbitses performed her routine to one of, if not the best version of “I Put A Spell On You”. With the possibility of actually putting a spell on the crowd, Screamin Jay Hawkins’ maniacal laugh was the creepy backdrop to the Hobbitses flawless routine.
Note: I’ll hear Nina Simone’s version of “I Put A Spell On You” as really, the only contender for ‘best version’ outside of the Hawkins original . A true mark of a brilliantly crafted tune, I went through a patch in my life trying to uncover as many versions of the song as I could find, whether Joe Cocker, Marilyn Manson, Annie Lennox, Bette Midler, The Animals, Jeff Beck & Joss Stone, CCR or Van Morrison I could not find a single poor version of the masterpiece.