Wilde Women Cabaret (photo: Patric Carver)
Before I had the pleasure of seeing Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret perform for the first time, I thought that cabaret was somewhat of a theatrical joke. At worst, I imagined an art form past its prime, the withering type of gathering that would-be society girls with all the desperation of Holly Golightly and none of the scintillation attend in droves. However, Robichaud has certainly shattered that assumption.
Her latest show, Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret Presents Wilde Women was a spectacular event. Wearing a gargantuan, fire-reminiscent wig, Robichaud entered the stage on Friday looking like a seductive Heat Miser. It was her voice, though, that set the stage on fire. The opening medley dipped into a variety of sultry pop songs, from “Whatever Lola Wants” to The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like.” Robichaud, backed by her Darling Misfits band, showed the prowess of her vocal reach by harnessing the raw frenzy of Heart’s “Crazy on You” and echoing the arresting sorrow of Tina Turner’s original in her rendition of “What’s Love Got to do with It?”
Later in the night, Robichaud would put her stunning voice to work with two original pieces of hers, “My Escape” and “Red Satin.” This time dressed as Satine from Moulin Rouge, there was high potential for Robichaud to sink into the murky waters of ego-blinded faux artistry, riding on the coattails of others’ imagery and calling it her own. However, this was not the case. Robichaud may have been wearing a Satine mask, but the heart in the songs was all her.. Strong without being brutal, Robichaud captivated.
An electrifying entertainer on her own, what gives this show the alchemy that takes place on stage is the attention to detail and planning. Characters, moods, and visuals all come together to make a show that is greater than the sum of its parts. Wilde Women pours the right cocktail of silly and serious. Whimsical performances such as Johnny Rockitt and Rita Dambook dressed at the figmental “Real Housewives of Edwardian Society,” lip-syncing their way through The Pierces’ “Boring” were balanced with the protracted beauty of Nina Sawant’s performance. The iconoclastic sword-and-shear swallowing Lynx was a perfect contrast to the composed beauty of The Diamond String Quartet.
The only player who seemed slightly out of place was ballerina Courtney Courtney who portrayed the absinthe-summoned Green Fairy. Courtney Courtney, though an exquisite dancer, seemed to be confined on the stage. Without room to move, she seemed less like a fanciful fairy and more like a pet shop bird with its wings clipped. That isn’t to say that I did not enjoy this contribution to the evening. Rather, I wish there had been more of an opportunity for Courtney Courtney to really spread her wings.
However, the standout performance of the night was a performance by vocal artist Trixxie Carr. Drawing from her one-woman show, Salome, Dance for Me, Carr painted a picture of infamous dancer and decapitation conspirer that was delicious in its schizophrenia. At times, she was dizzyingly coy, with a come-hither stare juxtaposed with a perky, jailbait voice and sophomoric commentary. Then, the switch would flip and she’s suddenly a siren — beguiling the audience with rafter-shaking powerhouse vocals and charring lyrics.
The show officially closed with an on-stage dance party to The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” but audience members with premium tickets were treated to an encore serenade behind the curtain. Wearing a dressing gown and blissful expression, Robichaud embodied the spirit of the old-time starlet. She swept over the small crowd gathered on stage with simple renditions of modern carols before singing a sweet simple song that she wrote as a gift for her husband years ago. Ending the night with Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” Robichaud set her fans off floating on cosmic waves that warmed the chill of winter-speckled Chinatown. The evening ended with enchantment.
Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret will be performing an all-new cabaret, Grimm, Feburary 24 – 25, 2016 at The Great Star Theater.