Imagine a company that blends the drama of Broadway with the talent of spoken word artists: this is just scratching the surface of what to expect at a La-Ti-Do show. The brainchild of Don Michael Mendoza and Regie Cabico, La-Ti-Do is moving into its sixth year of existence and is poised to take over the DC scene as a prominent entertainment option for those looking for new experiences.
While attending their 2017 Closing Party — which was also their ‘I Love the Holidays’ show — I got a taste of what to expect from them in the upcoming year. This is not your parent’s stuffy concert hall gig. It is a living, breathing testament to the talent and creativity of DC’s artistic community. With performers that range from Broadway veterans and Helen Hayes Award honorees to internationally recognized spoken word artists, La-Ti-Do is raising the bar for local cabarets.
Showing up to their current home at Bistro Bistro, a lovely French restaurant near Dupont Circle, you immediately notice the friendly atmosphere. I grabbed a glass of red wine on my way up to the performance space and found a seat at one of the tables which was dressed for the show. This is a fantastic layout for a cabaret. Larger tables allow you to mingle with other audience members, as well as accommodating your food and drink.
Don Michael Mendoza and Regie Cabico act as hosts for their shows, in addition to their role as producers. Their banter between numbers is top notch. Whether you are at your first La-Ti-Do show or are a regular attendee, you will quickly feel like you have found a community. There was no standard audience demographic, indeed, everyone brought their own cultures, creeds, and sexual orientations along with them.
The musical numbers chosen accommodated young and old. The first number, sung by local talents Stephen Yednock and Shane Conrad, was David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s famous “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” Rachel Levitin sang a rousing rendition of the *NSYNC hit “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.” While the latter is more reflective of my generation, the classics weren’t lost on the audience.
Alexandra Levensen sang a version of “Santa Baby” which incorporated her own clever spin to become “Chanukah Honey.” Michael Sandoval encouraged us to “Step Into Christmas” with the Elton John tune. Don Michael Mendoza even stepped on stage to sing Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”
Spoken word artists Alex Olesker, Sarah D. Lawson, and Everett Roberts brought some cool to the show; addressing issues such as the Trump Administration’s environmental sins, a marriage between Christmas and Chanukah, and a very sinister holiday celebration. We have many outstanding poets in the DC area. The spoken word portion of the show took advantage of this fact very effectively.
Tara Trinity closed out the cabaret portion of the show with a gorgeous take on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” After the announcement of the upcoming feature artists for La-Ti-Do’s 2018 season, the cast of Forever Soulful took the stage. The group, comprised of members Michelle Harmon Bruno, Tina Ghandchilar, Corisa Myers, and Anya Audette Randall, gave the audience their soulful spin on Christmas classics.
La-Ti-Do gives the DC scene a cutting-edge cabaret experience that highlights talented artists and performers from different backgrounds. For those who enjoy substance with their entertainment, the spoken word element adds that little something extra. Cabaret is the new clubbing. Tell your friends. La-Ti-Do will be leading the charge in our age of transparency— presenting us with authentic performers from all walks of life and reminding us to enjoy ourselves in the coming year.
Join La-Ti-Do on January 22, 2018, for their 6th Anniversary Show– their first production following the holidays. More information about upcoming La-Ti-Do shows, as well as ticketing information, can be found online.