by Barry David Horwitz
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“Jewels of Paris,” the latest over-the-top crossdressing genderfuck bare-ass musical extravaganza by Scrumbly Koldewyn and Russell Blackwood shoots for the stars. Thrillpeddlers’ collection of musical and comic sketches invokes the down and dirty days of 1900s Paris. But the true origin of these sexy sketches would be the Cockettes’ 60s satirical theatrics and the Theatre of the Ridiculous, torch-bearers for the Summer of Love in San Francisco. If you are nostalgic for raunchy 60s glam-rock and tunes sung by the likes of Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso, bearded ladies, bare breasts, and lots of bare flesh of the he-, the she-, and the trans- varieties, this is your show.
All the San Francisco glitterati, including a drag queen done up as Dame Edna Everage, who sat in front of us, went wild over the show. But when it comes to musicals of most sorts, I confess to being a “dud.” I enjoyed the clever skits and kitschy references, and wondered if this was celebration or satire. Are we making fun of ourselves? Is San Francisco really the “Paris of the West,” as this multi-faceted revue asserts? Or, are we living on our reputation, waiting for some new history to happen? I sure can see that gay and straight visitors will plug into our reigning myths and the pot, politics, and patchouli-laced scent of the past. Can we live up to it, or just live it up, still? Dame Edna may be on her Final Grand Tour, how about us? These are important questions that the Thrillpeddlers do not bother to address. But the audience and the lively and enthusiastic singers certainly have fun.
Things get going in turn-of-the-century Paris with “Gert’s Postcard,” a witty song, delivered craftily by Hayley Nystrom, in her clear soprano. Gertrude Stein writes to Alice B. Toklas back home in S.F., telling her to get to Paris quickly to partake in the sexual shenanigans of 1900. The whole ensemble follows her “Postcard” with a rousing song called “Everyone’s a Genius in Paree Today,” presenting the musicians, painters, and writers of Paris: Erik Satie, Leonid Massine, Josephine Baker, Stein, and Picasso, who are all happily breaking the old rules. Not much attention is paid to the details of each of these fascinating lives; their famous outrages appear only as mere sketches. Satie, Massine, and Picasso collaborate on a sensual ballet.
The show rather forgets about its Parisian theme after the intermission, and embarks on other issues, including Roman myths, speaking butts, and “Quasihomo & Lesmerelda.” We wander off into dungeons and DeSade, and a torchsinger who insists amusingly, “I Am You.”
Anything goes in this show — and there’s something for everyone — a cascade of lovely lips, a flurry of luscious butts, gay sex, straight sex, trans-dressing, transgressing holes, hot bodies, big boobs, and fabulous costumes. You want it, they’ve got it, and these handsome and lovely performers show it all with gusto.
It’s loud, it’s brash, it’s beads and feathers and strutting breasts and booties and butts, all over the place. For those who have enjoyed the satirical musical reviews of the Cockettes and the Thrillpeddlers over the decades, this show is made for you.
“Jewels of Paris: A Revolutionary New Musical Revue” plays at The Hypnodrome through May 2nd, 2015. For further information, click here.
“Jewels of Paris: A Revolutionary New Musical Revue” presented by Thrillpeddlers.
Original Music & Lyrics: Scrumbly Koldewyn. Additional Lyrics: Rob Keefe, Martin Worman, Alex Kinney. Sketches: Rob Keefe, Alex Kinney, Scrumbly Koldewyn & Andy Wegner. Director: Russell Blackwood. Musical Direction: Scrumbly Koldewyn. Choreography: Noah Haydon. Scene Designer: James Blackwood. Costume Design: Tina Sogliuzzo & Birdie-Bob Watt. Lighting: Nicholas Torre.
Performers: Lisa McHenry, Christine Kim, Kim Larsen, Roxanne Redmeat, Bruna Palmeiro, Hayley Nystrom, Dee Nathaniel, Andrew Darling, Steven Satyricon, Michael Soldier, Andy Wegner, J Iness, Birdie-Bob Watt, Noah Haydon, Jack Crow, Scrumbly Koldewyn (accompanist), Russell Blackwood.
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One thought on “Review: ‘Jewels of Paris: A Revolutionary New Musical Review” from Thrillpeddlers (**1/2)”
Does it really make sense to criticize the show for not pondering where San Francisco is at this point in time, when most of it is set in Paris at earlyer periods of time. There were refrences to San Francsico here and there, including the line in the last number “San Francisco is the Paris of the west.” But that was just for the benefit and amuzement of the local audience. People go mostly for the other things mentioned. If they walk away learning something, which they will if they pay attention, it will be about Paris. San Francisco? We live here and we already know about it.