Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2014’

‘An Evening With Meow Meow’ isn’t for everyone

 

Although “An Audience With Meow Meow” is billed as a new musical play, it’s primarily a cabaret act.

Presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre in its world premiere, the show was written by its star, Meow Meow. She’s an Australian-born performance artist whose real name is Melissa Madden Gray.

Directed by Emma Rice, the 90-minute, intermissionless show starts with lots of glitz as Meow Meow and two male dancers, Michael Balderrama and Bob Gaynor, perform a few songs. Before long, though, she and they get into battles that end with the two men limping off stage.

Over time, stage managers tell her that she has to leave, but she refuses, insisting that she’s a professional. They gradually strip the stage of its colorful trappings and then turn off the lights. Ever resourceful, she goes up an aisle, grabs an EXIT sign off the wall and uses it to find the ghost light and provide more illumination (lighting by Alexander V. Nichols).

Meow Meow is a good singer and an acrobatic dancer (choreography by Tiger Martina), but some of her attempts at humor fall flat. The show does get better as the stage goes bare and she gets more serious.

She’s a shameless performer, doing all she can to wheedle applause. After the dancers go, she leaves the stage to recruit audience members to come up and assist with her act.

As a near-finale — after the stagehands have removed most of her costume — she orders the audience to stand and raise their arms,. She then she begins to crowd surf — allowing people to pass her from row to row.

Neil Murray’s set (he also designed the costumes) places three instrumentalists, including conductor-musical director Lance Horne on piano, on one side of the stage. The percussionist is on the other side.

Meow Meow is basically a talented performer who milks her mostly appreciative audience for all she can, but she’s not everyone’s saucer of milk.

“An Audience With Meow Meow” will continue in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St.,  Berkeley, through Oct. 19. For tickets and information, call (510) 647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org.

 

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