Cabaret. Milwaukee swings into the final chapter of its Jealous Revolver serial. The bar at the Astor Hotel once again serves as the perfect venue for a retro variety show done in the style of an old live radio show. Chris Goode brings a distinctive (And distinctively energetic) old-timey radio voice to the stage as show’s host Richard Howling.
This time around Howling introduces a very evenly-mixed evening of entertainment with the final chapter of the original Milwaukee-based crime thriller starring a suitably dramatic Dora Diamond and Maura Atwood as business partners who have taken over a speakeasy in the wake of a few homicides in earlier episodes. The tradition with old-style crime drama (going all the way back to the original old radio shows) is to over-play the dramatic intensity. To their credit Diamond and Atwood keep the energy of the drama on a very believable range that makes for an engaging tension not often seen in gangster thrillers. Randall T. Anderson makes a striking appearance as the sinister visiting villain from Chicago--a gangster who plays a man known as Happy Memories. The cast is rounded-out by a dashing Andrew Parchman as a police detective and a comically inept cop played by Michael Keiley.
The show is separated into two halves...each opened by the classy crooning of Cameron Webb, who does a hell of a job with a Billie Holiday tune. Cabaret Milwaukee newcomer Anna Brink is a classy addition to the show. Her agile piano work throughout the show provides a jazzy background for the show that fits in perfectly around the edges of all the rest of the action. (She's appeared various place over the years. It's fun to see her add to the dynamic of a theatrical show.) Allen Russell adds to the atmosphere with period-perfect violin that lingers around the edges with Brink’s piano.
Michelle White sharply shifts to comedy this time around. She’d been delivering some of the drama in earlier episodes. Here she’s filling-in for comic 1940s "helpful hints" housewife Laura Holterman in a bit of clever retro comedy based on an actual 1939 “Marital Rating Scale” by one Dr. George W. Crane that appears in the program. Elsewhere, White joins Lindsay Willicombe and Marina Dove as the three-part harmony of the Howling Jinglers, who also engage in a bit of fun comedy between the music. Michael Palisano reappears as the slyly alliterative comedian in a particularly deft tongue tangle tango with witty anxiety. In one of the more clever bits of staging in the show, tap dancer Danielle Joy Webber performs her second set onstage with the corpse of a murder victim still onstage as a tied-up police office Micheal Keiley serves as captive audience. Elsewhere in the story, dance comes in an altogether different form as Maria Pretzl and Jullian Williams perform a burlesque for the cops.
So to review: Burlesque, tap, vaudevillian stand-up, jazz crooning with keyboard and violin, drama and suspense. It's a classy time at the Astor.
Cabaret Milwaukee’s The Jealous Revolver: Episode Three runs through March 2nd at the Astor Hotel on 924 E. Juneau. For ticket reservations and more, visit Brown Paper Tickets online.