BWW Review: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE HAUNTED CABARET at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre
On Sunday, October 6, I had the pleasure of participating in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE HAUNTED CABARET at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. I say, "participating," because this musical comedy with book by Phill Hill not only involves audience interaction, but goes one step further and lets the audience vote (by applause) to determine what happens, like a "choose your own adventure" stage show. Ricky Altamirano directs a spectacular cast of five that includes himself and showcases the strong talents of all five cast members in five well written and wonderfully performed roles.
The set is that of a game show which becomes a show within the show, with the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre audience becoming the audience for the fictional game show. The game show is hosted by Montgomery Conyers (Ricky Altamirano) with the ever smiling Vanessa Pearl (Lauren Bell) at his side. Godfrey Rayburn (Zach Fontanez) is the producer and announcer of the game show. The three game show staff members have excellent stage chemistry with each other, realistically portraying the dynamics between three people working together on a game show. Ricky Altamirano has the game show host mannerism down, while Lauren Bell is excellent at imitating the mannerisms and facial expressions of female co-hosts and models who appear on game shows. Zach Fontanez perfectly nails the game show announcer voice and inflection. Uniqueness among this game show staff, however, is found in the sense that Vanessa Pearl clearly has vast knowledge and multiple college degrees, yet has her voice constantly squelched by her male co-workers who seem to prefer if she would essentially create the illusion that she has no intelligence to offer, but is merely there to smile and draw male viewers to the show. It certainly makes the audience stop and think about how so many highly educated and deeply intelligent women are stuck in jobs that undermine their personalities and intellectual capacities, and merely focus on their appearance.
Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre favorite Andrea Pane is absolutely "brilliant!" in the lead role of Sherlock Holmes, excelling again in another role that really gives him a chance to showcase his talents. He nails the British voice and the quirky mannerisms of the character.
Ashley DePascale provides another strong performance, this time as Joanna Watson who starts as a contestant on the game show, but ends up as a key member in the investigation of the haunting of the cabaret. She joins Sherlock Homes and the game show staff in the attempt to discover the true identity of the alleged phantom that messes with the lights and sound, and laughs like Vincent Price at the end of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
With altered lyrics, the songs are highlighted by "Hotel California," and "Gimme Shelter." Music by Eddie Money, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, and Prince is also included. While the audience gets to vote on whether the cast members should stay or should they go, at one point, there is no accompanying Clash song, yet music of the Sex Pistols makes an appearance later on, but potentially by a different cast member each time (up to five times.)
Using a screen on the stage, commercial spoofs and real commercials regarding Downtown Cabaret Theatre are interspersed in as part of the show within the show. Homage is shown to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and to Scooby Doo, while references are made to Cats and Phantom.
I highly recommend SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE HAUNTED CABARET which is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, through November 3, 2019. For times and tickets, please go to tickets.