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The Untamed Stage – Weimar Berlin Kabarett

Thrillpeddlers presents The Untamed Stage
Weimar Berlin Kabarett
Hypnodrome, San Francisco, 23 April, 2016
Runs April 14 – May 28, 2016

Scrumbly Koldewyn is a certified San Francisco legend, renowned for his groundbreaking work as musical director for the Cockettes, the early ’70s San Francisco-based drag and theater troupe.  Koldewyn brings those sex-positive, fearless and experimental elements as composer of Thrillpeddlers recent string of musical hits (Pearls Over Shanghai and Jewels of Paris) and now The Untamed Stage, his homage to Berlin-based late 1920’s cabaret.

Performer, composer and music director Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn. Photo: David Wilson

Performer, composer and music director Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn. Photo: David Wilson

Thrillpeddlers may be the only theatre troupe continuing the rich history of Grand Guignol and Ridiculous Theatre, and Act I of The Untamed Stage combines Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret format with original material in the style of Friedrich Hollaender and Mischa Spoliansky, the Cole Porter and Noel Coward of Germany. Opening with the catchy “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” (Koldewyn with Cab Covay), we’re instantly immersed in the dark, seedy underbelly of Weimar culture populated by prostitutes, pickpockets, deviants and gender bending free souls. The delightful Kim Larsen sings “No One is Looking”, a tip sheet on how to successfully rob the patrons. David Bicha, a tour de force performer, explains the tale of a cross-dressing couple who switch sex roles in “Herr und Frau Anstatt”.  There’s a ridiculous skit titled Spoogillios (written by Andy Wegner and Damien Chacona)  involving an Italian father and son team who clean out the orifices of the towns sex dolls with a bottlebrush and ice cream scooper. I guarantee you won’t see anything like this in other productions!



The remaining numbers extoll the ‘virtues’ of exhibitionism (“Dance of the Exhibitionists”), lesbianism (“Having Fun Tonight”, performed by Nkechi Emeruwa and special guest Carly Ozard), temptation, BDSM and sexual decadence. It’s all wonderfully enacted by Thrillpeddler’s cast of very talented actors who are asked to sing, dance and perhaps disrobe. Koldewyn’s music and stellar lyrics are an amalgam of his influences from Lerner and Lowe, Rogers and Hammerstein, Ken Russell, Kander and Ebb, Rogers and Hart, Gershwin, Porter, Berlin,  Sondheim, Noël Coward, Frank Lesser, and John Cameron Mitchell.

Act II, titled The German Thing To Do- or How a Cow Changes History was equally wild and ludicrous. The ridiculous plot involves a group of youthful fascist Brown Shorts, a wild tribe of naturals and an existential cow (Bruna Palmeiro).  It’s part German-folklore (The German Thing To Do”), pansexual excess (“Pan-Sexual Dora’s Box”) and a call for human –animal symbiosis (“Kowma”) and “The Divine Bovine”). As always, these over-the-top productions feature wild scenic designs (James Blackwood), robust choreography (Marilynn Fowler), kinky props (Yusuke Soi) and outlandish costumes (Glenn Krumbholz).

Performed in the intimate Hyponodrome, the cast is about half the audience size and one can almost become part of the whole enterprise. Koldewyn and Thrillpeddlers have provided a grand production with The Untamed Stage on a shoestring budget, which is a noble cause in and of itself.  Bravo!

The Untamed Stage
Presented by Thrillpeddlers
Where: Hypnodrome, 575 10th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, through May 28
Tickets: $30 to $35
Contact: (415) 377-4202,

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