‘Hot Greeks’ leaves the audience panting—with laughter

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: 4/5 Stars » Highly Recommended)

This reviewer is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

For a while now, the always polished Thrillpeddlers at The Hypnodrome have been presenting revivals of the legendary Cockettes musicals under the skilled comic leadership of director Russell Blackwood and the musical masterminding of Scrumbly Koldewyn of the original Cockettes. Thus far, we have enjoyed delightfully funny productions of Pearls Over Shanhgai and Vice Palace.

The current revival of Hot Greeks may be the sexiest, funniest, and most outrageous of them all. A loose (extremely) retelling of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Hot Greeks opens with an amazingly sophisticated musical chorus performed in a (presumably) classic Greek style. Koldewyn’s musical wit and compositional chops are in clear evidence here, and caused me to begin the evening open-mouthed with delighted astonishment.

It is quickly established, however, that the performance is not going to continue as a spoof of high culture. It turns out we have been watching the students of Athens College performing a Greek drama, not the real thing. The conceit on which the plot turns is that the lead cheerleader, Lysistrata, organizes her comrades in pompoms to blue ball the football team until they stop obsessing over the Big Game and give the girls the attention they crave.

Thrillpeddlers presents "Hot Greeks: The Cockettes Musical Comedy" book and lyrics by Martin Woman, music and additional lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn. Photo Credit: Thrillpeddlers.

There are over 20 cast members in this production performing as many musical numbers, each deserving special mention and celebration. Director Russell Blackwood has said that everybody in the cast “has their moment in the sun”. He’s right. The evening is one star turn after another, belly laugh after belly laugh, each company member exploding with comic energy. Scrumbly Koldewyn’s score is top-notch and delightful and the book and lyrics by Martin Worman (some additional lyrics by Koldewyn) are spun from the best comic thread. With Hot Greeks Koldewyn does to ancient Athens what Stephen Sondheim did to ancient Rome with A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum—gives it a royal screwing to our unending delight.

Here’s a taste (if the term “taste” can be applied) of the humor to be found. When Lysistrata first attempts to organize the cheerleaders, she winds up crying out in frustration:

“I call a meeting to discuss a political question and all I get is two horny cunts and a migraine.”

If that made you laugh, you should go see Hot Greeks.

Watch for Russell Blackwood’s fabulously funny turn as FDR, wielding wheelchair and cigarette holder with the aplomb of an inspired drag queen brandishing Glenda’s sceptre in a sendup of The Wizard of Oz. This may be the best comic caricature of President Roosevelt since Burgess Meredith’s turn as The Penguin in the TV version of Batman.

Blackwood returns later in the show in full drag as Mata Dildoes, an oracle, who insists in song (not very convincingly) that she is NOT the renowned “Hot Twat of Tangier”.

And I haven’t even told you about the very smart pig puppet, Socrates, or the (deliciously hunky) chorus boys dressed as Greek columns.

There’s more. You should see for yourself. Hot Greeks continues through May 3. For further information, click here.

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Hot Greeks: The Cockettes Musical Comedy, music by Scrumbly Koldewyn, book & lyrics by Martin Worman, additional lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn, produced by Thrillpedllers. Director: Russell Blackwood. Musical Director: Scrumbly Koldewyn. Choreographer: Bonni Suval. Scene Designer: James Blackwood. Costume Designer: Maxx Kurzunski and Jim Jeske. Lighting Designer: Nicholas Torre. Sound Designer: Chris Paulina. Wig & Makeup Designer: Flynn De Marco. 

Piano: Scrumbly Koldewyn. Drums  Percussion: Steve Bolinger. Tenor Saxophone: Birdie-Bob Watt.

Dean Pompous: Kim Larsen. Clitoristra: Annie Larson. Professor Myron: Birdie-Bob Watt. Lysistrata: Rik Lopes. Mrs. Ova: Lisa Appleyard. Athens Annie: Jim Toczyl. Pandora: Noah Haydon. Pendulum Pulaski: Tom Orr. Mata Dildoes: Russell Blackwood. Leda: Jan Adrienne Gilbert. Socrates: Jim Jeske. Hermia: Zelda Koznofski. Diameter: Joshua Devore. Sodoma: Maggie Tannenbaum. Carthage: Bonni Suval. Ajax: Fennel Skellyman. Hector: L. Ron Hubby. Orestes: Kai Brothers. Thersites: Carlos Barrera. Ionic: Steven Satyricon. Doric: Bobby Singer. Corinthian: Ste Fishell.

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