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BWW Review: BONNIE MILLIGAN & NATALIE WALKER Take All Major Credit Cards at THE GRAVE YARD SMASH at Feinstein's / 54 Below

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BWW Review: BONNIE MILLIGAN & NATALIE WALKER Take All Major Credit Cards at THE GRAVE YARD SMASH at Feinstein's / 54 Below

Well, those two nut jobs are back at it. After terrorizing audiences with their opus, BONNIE MILLIGAN AND NATALIE WALKER WERE SUPPOSED TO DO A SHOW ON SEPTEMBER 6TH AND HAVE BEEN WORKING ON IT FOR MONTHS, New York's two favorite 'slightly-north-of-the-theatre-district' divas have (just in time for our scariest holiday) re-teamed to wreak more havoc on the poor suspecting people who enjoy overpaying for chicken fingers and french fries at the swanky nightclub spot Feinstein's / 54 Below.

Back for not one but two nights of "belting, bloodshed and boo," THE GRAVEYARD SMASH might also just be the most delicious treat you find in your pumpkin bucket this Halloween season, but try not to tell anyone; it's already hard enough to get a seat.

Two glorious belters who would likely benefit from a nice long session in group therapy, Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker, like twins from a different mother (if one of the mothers was say, Shelley Duvall circa 1976 and the other Kathleen Turner circa 2004) have that rare and unlikely stage magic together that brings to mind electric duos like Judy and Barbra / Julie and Carol / the Captain and Tennille and... (well you get the idea).

Examining the honored tradition of musical theatre and the rarified artform of cabaret with all the sanctity of Aileen Wuornos doing a reading of THE BAKERS WIFE, the two women with their Seance of Stars (October 30) do their best to bring back the spirits of divas real and imagined, as stretched conceptually to fit in songs they'd like to sing 'just because.'

Launching with a spirited duet of "Let Me Be Your Star," the two ladies, 'keeping it classy' move quickly forward into a set list so ambitious it would make Streisand and Renee Fleming reach for the valium. Lest you get your hopes up for some Suzanne Sommers in THE GIRL IN THE THUNDERBIRD kind of disaster, I hate to break it to you; these girls really can sing their Fanny Brices off.

Milligan, blond and curvy - with a bright and clarion ping - pretty much blasts the fake ceiling installed in 54 Below in the 1980s (to keep the trash from the club upstairs from getting in) down one drywall at a time with jaw dropping renditions of everything from "They Just Keep Moving the Line" (also from SMASH, a project these two apparently really like) to Whitney (RIP) Houston's "I Have Nothing" to (yes, we want it) Barbra's "Don't Rain on My Parade."

Walker, petite and brunette - with a more brandy soaked contralto - seems more comfortable brushing shoulders with comedic impersonations and witty repartee but is no less thrilling a vocalist, especially when paying tribute to Garland ("Over the Rainbow") Winehouse ("Back to Black") and Patti LuPone's diction circa 1981 ("Buenos Aires").

Pausing for a cigarette break about half way though, the women hand the stage over to the riotous classical soprano, Kuhoo Verma (in furs and seemingly breezing through on her way to Bergdorf) for a no-right-to-be that-effortless rendition of Bernstein's can-she-hit-the-high-E signature hit, "Glitter and Be Gay."

Speaking of, the ladies truly know their audience. And if the evening has the elegance of 9:00 AM at the Folsom Street Fair, it can't be said that it's not very, very funny. On stage, the women also seem to genuinely have a real affection for each other, which strongly suggests their acting chops are legit.

Closing out the evening with "Bosom Buddies" (because really nobody has any imagination anymore) it's easy to watch Bonnie and Natalie and wonder: how many more times are they actually going to do this? But in truth, when the night is this outrageously entertaining, the chicken fingers this good, and the talent involved this off the charts, I'd likely pay just to come back and hear Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker sing the phone book.

But come to think of it, let's not give them any ideas...

Bonnie Milligan & Natalie Walker: THE GRAVEYARD SMASH. Dan Garmon was the talented musical director who had to put up with all of this.

Adi Meyerson - Bass
David Kawamura - Guitar/ Keys
Josh Roberts - Drums

October 30 and 31, 2019 at Feinstein's 54 Below.


Follow Bonnie Milligan at @beltingbonnie

Follow Natalie Walker at @nwalks



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From This Author Brady Schwind