Cabaret

All posts in the Cabaret category

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Della Reese

Published June 28, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Della Reese

Much grittier than her Touched By An Angel persona may have suggested, the amazingly eclectic Della Reese had a vast, multi-leveled career. Her extensive credits even include an appearance in Psychic Killer, a horror effort directed by B-movie stalwart Ray Danton, the one time husband of Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams.

Audiophiles meanwhile have embraced One More Time, a mid-60s recording effort that finds Reese at the peek of her performing powers.

A more sensual Reese is discovered on her interesting cover of Bob Dylan’s Lay, Lady, Lay, as well.

Proving herself to be a performer of many moods and textures, Reese is eternally honored at https://dellareese.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Reese with Neville Brand in Psychic Killer

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ethel Ennis

Published May 17, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Ethel Ennis

Her take on The Star-Spangled Banner may have helped heal the nation during the Viet Nam War, but joyful terror tykes across the continents are probably most aware of the smooth tones of the divine Ethel Ennis due to her singing the theme song of the stop motion classic Mad Monster Party.

Credited as being a jazz icon, Ennis did not like to be sonically labeled, preferring to add her lilting personality and unique presence into whatever genre of music that she chose to sing.

But she was proud to be claimed by her native Baltimore as one of their prime attractions, dying at the age of 86 in 2019 after dedicating nearly 70 years of her life to the arts.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Ethel Ennis Mad Monster Party

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ella Fitzgerald

Published May 3, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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Supernaturally talented, the divine Ella Fitzgerald shunned the more ostentatious aspects of show business, putting her complete concentration on the music. Known for her historic jazz stylings, she also added shades of other genres into her repertoire, including pop and country. In particular, her late ‘60s Capital LP Misty Blue featured her upbeat take on the Nashville sound.

Appropriately, Evil On Your Mind, a track off that offering, explores the horrors of love gone on the prowl, earning her a spot on every sympathetic terror freak’s playlist forever.

Naturally, they’re in good company.  Even the musically eclectic Melissa Manchester is a fan!

http://www.ellafitzgerald.com/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Ella

Music to Make Horror Movies By: I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance

Published March 8, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Alfred Hitchcock Music to be Murdered By

Just before my sophomore year of high school, I finally got my hair styled and my parents allowed me to get contact lenses. It felt like the whole world was opening up for me. Soon after that, I got the lead in the winter play, proof (I felt at the time) that change indeed was happening. As I was driven back and forth from rehearsals that late fall, Linda Ronstadt was continually, creamily crooning What’s New, the title track from her upcoming album of standards, on the car’s steadfast AM radio. I asked for the LP for Christmas that year.

MildredI lovingly remember playing that recording in my grandparents’ living room as the family sat around listening to it and chatting. In an often turbulent youth, filled with familial misunderstandings and the wisps of angst seemingly floating around the surface of many of my first tentative interactions, this is one of my favorite memories. Ronstadt’s version of I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance was song that probably stood out the most for me then and now. Besides the supernatural element of the title, I always had the sneaking suspicion that romance would be elusive to me, that connecting with someone would perhaps be an awkward, unrealized proposition. It was also one of the tracks included on Jeff Alexander’s creepily arranged Alfred Hitchcock Presents album, Music to Be Murdered By.

While I adore Ronstadt’s moody treatment of the number, one of my favorite versions is a jazzier, breezier take by the incomparable Mildred Bailey. One of Bing Crosby’s favored colleagues, Bailey was a Native American jazz singer who made a stunning impression on the music industry. I wish she was more publicly acknowledged.

Of course,  I’ve heard ignoring your first could prove to have disastrous consequences, so…

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Randall Edwards

Published January 10, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

RandallGorilla.jpgA mad man was threatening to freeze frame the world. Fair ingénues were being buried alive. And over at Ryan’s Hope, the comically conniving Delia was kidnapped by a gorilla in a daytime television take on King Kong’s love struck antics. Such was the world of the early ‘80s soaps and the game and lovely Randall Edwards was a huge part of that zany atmosphere.

Taking over the role of Delia from the incredibly popular Ilene Kirsten, Edwards eventually made the role her own while simultaneously thrilling old school horror lovers with her best Fay Wray impression. Purposely grabbing a lion’s share of publicity, this attention seeking storyline surely prepared Edwards for some theatrical scrutiny that was soon to follow.RandallPeople

After a successful showing in Neil Simon’s critically acclaimed Biloxi Blues, Edwards was cast as sassy showgirl Kiki Roberts in the 1988 Broadway production of Legs Diamond. The show, nicely, gave her an ample chance to show off her singing and dancing talents in numbers such as I Was Made for Champagne and Only Steal From Thieves. Expensively produced and starring popular singer-songwriter Peter Allen, this production eventually went down in history as being one of show business’ most notorious flops, causing the permanent closing of the theater in which it debuted.

RandallLegsOf course, time has thankfully brought out kinder reactions to the project. Allen’ score has been favorably reexamined and several of the songs were included in The Boy From Oz, the popular retelling of his life starring Hugh Jackman. Nicely, a 30th anniversary concert recreation of the show even featured a still beautiful, dizzily potent Edwards.

Reportedly now a psychologist, it would definitely make her many fans “go ape” if this talented woman would continue to make occasional appearances in creative situations.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths

Published December 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Bette Midler is many things. Her repertoire of songs alone includes rock and roll, MOR pop ballads, girl group classics and new wave energizers. Her role as the hysterically vengeful Winifred in Hocus Pocus also imbues her with a strong horror pedigree, allowing generations of outsiders to delightfully engage in their inner wicked witches.

In BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths, Chicago theater goddess Caitlin Jackson invokes many of those Midler personalities while also remaining uniquely herself. Based upon the Divine One’s ‘70s showcase at a NYC men’s club, this production is full of goofy energy and go-for-broke silliness, making it not only a seasonal delight, but one of the year’s best stage offerings as a whole, as well.

Jackson’s desire to make this a sort of performing arts fever dream is perfectly realized. For example, the corny jokes in Jackson and David Cerda’s fun script are often so obvious that they don’t land with the audience…at first. But the performer’s skilled reactions to the theater’s radio silence are truly hysterical, making the presentation as a whole an unmitigated delight from start to finish.

Of course, Jackson’s softly anguished takes on songs such as Superstar, River and I Shall Be Released are the evening’s master points. This go-for-broke yet subtle emotionality is her forte as a performer, making one pity those who will never experience this kind of brilliance in their lifetimes.

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Nicely, Jackson is ably assisted here by Terry McCarthy as Mr. Gerard, Midler’s game hairdresser, and Sydney Genco and Allison Petrillo as Laverne and Trixie, Midler’s backup singers. Genco and Petrillo get a chance to shine on their own during the show’s intermission/costume change. Their pert energy and spot on timing ultimately prove that they deserve a show of their own one of these days. Hmm…maybe next season!!!

But until then… give proper kudos to Jackson and co-director Marc Lewallen, by checking out this year’s festivities before closing night on December 31st.

https://www.facebook.com/events/570448403729627/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Cecil Cunningham

Published December 12, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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A product of the Broadway and vaudeville stages, the distinguished Cecil Cunningham was a character actress who, for decades, supported such cinema queens as Hedy LaMarr, Greta Garbo, Mary Astor, Carole Lombard (pictured below) and Barbara Stanwyck. Of course, smart cinema enthusiasts know that she was a presence in her own right, making a strong impression in smaller roles that often weren’t even credited onscreen.

thZJV2T4DG.jpgThankfully for horror fans, Cunningham was given one of her most prestigious undertakings in the fun Warner Brothers’ genre fest The Hidden Hand. Released in 1942, this gem found this regal celluloid queen in fine form as Lorinda Channing, the head of a family of greedy, mentally unbalanced socialites. Pretending to be near her death, Channing invites her nearest and dearest to her estate. Surmising that they all want her cold for her cash, this devious diva enlists the help of her brother, a deranged killer who has just escaped an asylum, to assist her in her plotting against her avaricious kinfolk.

Filled with weird humor and old dark house theatrics, this project also gave Cunningham plenty of room to utilize many of her acting tools. She brings a proud and strange presence to Channing, reveling in a role that would have normally been filled by a Boris Karloff or Laird Cregar type. Her work here is definitely the precursor to contemporary artists like Deanna Dunagan and Lin Shaye, fine actresses, who have embellished and empowered such films as The Visit and Insidious with their distinguished essences.

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Cunningham, who also appeared in 1934’s hard to find Return of The Terror and Ladies They Talk About, an early WIP effort, died at the age of 70 in 1959. Sixty years later, her filmography (and her genre credits, in particular) seems truly ripe for rediscovery.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Cabaret

Published October 24, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Cabaret

Examining the impact of the Nazi party on Berlin in the 1930s, Cabaret is a much loved musical with elements that are distinctly horrific.  Nicely, in Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company’s current production, directors Marc Lewallen and Brad Younts highlight this fact by adding a decidedly Mary Shelley slant to If You Could  See Her, one of the show’s most amusing, ultimately gut crushing numbers.

In keeping with that spirit, this show genuinely smashes expectations across the board. The naive protagonist Cliff, usually rendered as a bland collegiate soul, is given life and personality by Scott Sawa’s engaging portrayal here. He even gives this frequently colorless figure a sense of soft humor, allowing the show’s devastating ending to reflect not only the murderous intent of Hitler and his minions, but the loss of personal innocence, as well. Meanwhile, Anthony Whitaker not only sings the role of Herr Schultz with ecstatic sweetness, but gives him a delightfully romantic heart, as well, providing an endearing ingredient that other revivals have overlooked.

Of course, all of this would mean nothing without the perfect Sally Bowles and Caitlin Jackson is damn near that. Giving the character the expected oomph and sass, she also provides her with a lived in aura that makes her distinctly believable. Merging her natural sexiness with a sorrowful sense of humanity, she gifts audiences by revealing a character who is truly a victim of her own reckless desires, providing another contrast to Schultz, The Emcee (a fine Kevin Webb), Bobby (a joyful Josh Kemper) and the other members of the Kit Kat Club who are all finally victims of a sadistic regime. Jackson’s take on the title number, as well, is not only in earthy contrast to the assorted ingénues who usually brightly perform it, but a great indicator of the complicated emotional underpinnings of Bowles, as well.

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The decision to stage this version in the upstairs bar at Chief O’Neill’s in Chicago is also a wise move, allowing audiences to revel in the atmosphere that is being skillfully created here. One can truly feel the punk energy in band member Aaron Smith’s rhythmic drumming and deliciously partake in the motivations behind every wicked arch in Sydney Genco’s seductive eyebrows as she happily manipulates as the determined, vengeful Kost.

Cabaret, which obviously comes highly recommended, runs through Friday October 25th at Chief O’Neill’s in Chicago. Tickets are available at https://cstccabaret.bpt.me/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Helen Morgan and Lillian Roth

Published October 8, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Helen Morgan’s lovely take on Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man from Show Boat is used to grand effect in Alfred Sole’s unusually powerful horror effort Alice, Sweet Alice. Introducing the pivotal presence of Mr. Alphonso, a creepy landlord who antagonistically preys upon the title character, Sole uses this number in the background to illustrate the strange emotional landscape of this sometimes pitiful, always unsavory character.

Morgan (above left), who died of alcoholism at an early age, had two biographies filmed of her life and troubled times. In an interesting coincidence, Sole cast Lillian Roth (above right), a singer and actress in the tradition of Morgan, in a small but pivotal role of a pathologist in the film. In reality, Roth’s path echoed Morgan’s on many levels, adding a nice layer of show business coincidence to this well loved film, which was recently given the deluxe Blu-ray treatment from Arrow Video. As with Morgan, Roth’s life was given a cinematic appraisal by Susan Hayward, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work, in I’ll Cry Tomorrow.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Cowardly Scarecrow Announces Cabaret

Published August 27, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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The Chicago theater community has, as a friend likes to say, “Huge News!!!” Cowardly Scarecrow Productions has recently announced its fall production of Cabaret, beginning on October 5th, 2019. Renowned for their long running production of Musical of the Living Dead, this version of the Kander & Ebb classic is sure to be filled with this production house’s finely tuned sense of the gothic. No macabre essence of this piece is sure to go unexplored here.

This version is also armed with the undeniable talents of Caitlin Jackson (above), this site’s choice as the Midwest’s premium diva of the silver tongued boards! Jackson, who was recently nominated for a Jeff Award for her skillful performance of Cheryl in (last year’s hysterically fun, progressive version of) Evil Dead: The Musical, is sure to create a Sally Bowles for the memory books!

Cowardly Scarecrow Benefit Picture

Local enthusiasts can help CSP achieve their ultimate creative intentions by attending a benefit for them on August 31st: https://www.facebook.com/events/2426383007409353/.

Others, meanwhile, can hum charmingly off key versions of Tomorrow Belongs to Me while checking out the show’s growth at https://www.cowardlyscarecrow.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/CSTCINC/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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