Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘Cabaret XXX: Everybody F*cking Dies’

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(Best of the Capital Fringe)

Lets start off with a little history: Pinky Swear productions has had one of the best productions at the Fringe three years running, with their Cabaret XXX series.  Their first endeavor, Cabaret XXX: Les Femmes Fatales, was even named 2011’s “Best Musical” at Fringe. Each Cabaret has certain commonalities: “The exes,” who provide excellent live music, the raucous and rowdy style, and of course, the lead characters that audiences had come to love: Karen, Toni, and Allyson.

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This year, though, is the last year Pinky Swear can perform in the Tent at Fort Fringe. According to their website, they naturally started to “think about death,” and then made a “rash decision” to kill of all their characters. Thus, this installment is a “memorial cabaret,” where the friends and acquaintances of the girl come to celebrate their lives through song.

I was worried when I first went into the performance that I would be lost. I hadn’t seen any of the previous years’ Cabaret XXX, and wasn’t familiar with the lead characters; I was apprehensive about being subject to a hailstorm of inside jokes and being on the outside. I’m very happy to report that the show stands alone quite well. You don’t have to be “in the know” to think this is a hilarious and fun show.

You also don’t have to be a cabaret veteran to realize the talent that Pinky Swear puts on stage. Not only can the entire cast sing extraordinarily well, but they also have excellent comedic instincts, and a wonderful stage presence. Karen Lange, who has played Karen in years past but now plays her Bostonian friend, has an exceptional voice, and always get the audience involved in the show. Her rendition of Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, where she dips down to the very bottom of her range, is spectacular. Allyson Harkey sings the heck out of  Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Ask Me Twice’ and Violent Femmes’ “Add it Up” as does Toni Rae Salmi on “Freak Like Me’ by Halestorm.

Anderson Wells is another standout. He plays our master of ceremonies, and starts the show off with a deep and brilliant soulful melody. He acts as a sort of a straight man throughout the show, and keeps things moving forward. His physicality, which really gets to show itself towards the end of the show, is superb, and his comedic timing is spot-on.

Stephen Spotswood has written us a witty script, one with some eclectic and great songs (The selection includes: Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Halestorm, REM, The Black Eyed Peas, and more…), and although the show started off slowly it was still entertaining during the slow parts, but the cast’s voices and the band certainly kept my focus. Once the show picked up, though, it was an awesome ride to the finish.

Cabaret XXX: Everybody F*cking Dies is a raunchy, funny, well sung and well-acted piece. Don’t miss it!

Running Time: One hour and fifteen minutes.

Cabaret XXX play at the Baldacchino Tent Bar – Fort Fringe – 607 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.

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