Capital Fringe Review: ‘Cabaret XXX – Who Do You Think You Are?’ by Keith Tittermary

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Another steamy night in the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar was courtesy of Pinky Swear Productions. This year’s annual offering, Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are, is just what you need to get hot at the Capital Fringe Festival.

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According to their website, Pinky Swear’s Mission is to “produce modern plays with strong, engaging women’s roles where people talk to each other and things happen. Our productions are a little funny, a little dark, and a lot entertaining.” Well, they succeeded in their mission with this evening of witty banter and glorious music.

The evening started off with Co-Artistic Directors Karen Lange and Allyson Harkey, engaging in witty repartee with each other and the audience, setting us up for an evening asking us the question, “Who do we think we are?”

Joined by their “minions” – Maureen Boman and Laura Esti Miller, they took the stage to open their musical act missing something. Pinky Swear’s Resident Director, Toni Rae Salmi, who usually performs with the group, was missing, and they needed a replacement. Enter newcomer, Clarissa Barton, a.k.a, Toni 2. Barton is a musical force, from great vocal chords to playing a mean keyboard, she holds her own among the very talented ladies on stage. In addition to her musical abilities, she was probably the best comedian on stage, using a vast array of facial expressions to deliver a punch line without saying a word.

Each lady has her own solo to shine, but resident diva, Allyson Harkey, steals the show in a very tender moment that peeks inside “who she is.” Whether Harkey is exchanging wits with her cast or playfully yelling at the audience, she is a very at home on stage and serves as a anchor in the show and keeps the pace of the show moving along.

These five ladies share the stage with a rocking 4-piece band, led by Music Director Felix Pages. Pages gets a great sound out of his singers and musicians, and has arranged some masterful songs, including a “power woman medley” that must have included 15 or so songs.

The bridge between the cast and the band is drummer Christopher Herring. Herring tears down the house (while tearing off his wardrobe) in a solo number serving as the “Y” to these ladies’ “X”.

Under the direction of Ryan Maxwell, Pinky Swear’s annual Cabaret is a well-conceived show that gets to the heart of “who do we think we are?”

Running time: 75 minutes with no intermission.

Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are plays through July 28, 2013 at Fort Fringe – Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar– 607 New York Ave NW, in Washington, DC. 20001. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.

Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are contains a lot of profanity and sexual references, so leave the easily offended at home.

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