FRINGE: Cabaret – Marry Me a Little – La Boheme – 3K

Rita (Merrilyn Greer), Edie (Leah Potter) and Betty (Tahlia Ries) are The Bailey Dolls, a musical trio who perform in the club of Frank Hartley (Buddy Dawson). With the news that a friend has received a marriage proposal, Betty, who has been waiting on her beau to pop the question for years, has reached the end of her patience. Meanwhile, Rita has different priorities in the world of love, having just broken off her latest fling, and Edie is becoming unsure of how her relationship with Hartley is to proceed. Can the girls sort out their love lives in the time it takes to do a cabaret show?

The action switches between scenes where the Dolls are performing in the club and those occurring backstage, in their dressing room, as they discuss (sing about) their problems between sets. These switches, while creating an entertaining juxtaposition between the two worlds, did lead to significant pauses between scenes as the girls left and then returned to the stage to illustrate the change of scenery. Perhaps there is a better way to do this which would not break the flow so much? Accents seemed to vary wildly – both between actors and between scenes – and some focus on making this consistent would also help to bring the show together.

While the characters, attitudes and story seemed to set the show not long after World War II (maybe the early 60s at a stretch), this would mean that there were bemusing anachronisms in some of the song choices. It’s one thing to slip songs from a modern composer into the mix but to then have the characters specifically say that they’re going to perform a piece by Sondheim, which is quite well known and wasn’t written until the 70s, seemed a little strange. Making it clear to the audience in which decade the story is set, would help to give the experience a grounding point from which to better understand the overall concept.  Musically, the voices of the three singers come together nicely to create sweet harmonies. The solo songs gave each performer the opportunity to show off their range and Dawson got to prove that he has musical talent of his own in a couple of quick numbers. Accompanying the songs, house band The Duckies helped to create the right atmosphere.

This is an afternoon of light entertainment, designed to delight and, while the story based sections of the performance could do with some tightening up, overall it does.

Kryztoff rating: 3K

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