After a Fashion

Stephen's date gets hit on, and, remarkably, there's no word of bloodshed. Read all about it.

The lovely “Carol Channing” will be among the entertainer-impersonators on hand for the 11th annual VIVA! Las Vegas benefit for ASA and CAALP.
<br>Photo courtesy of ASA
The lovely “Carol Channing” will be among the entertainer-impersonators on hand for the 11th annual VIVA! Las Vegas benefit for ASA and CAALP.
Photo courtesy of ASA

"LIFE IS A ..." We walked out the door, and I said, "Wow, it was just breathtaking." My escort, the witty, urbane, and handsome PR exec Robert Nash, and I walked farther on in silence. "Yeah," he said after a minute, "it was really fabulous." "Yeah," I said dreamily. I was really at a loss for words, and, well, you know that doesn't happen often. We'd just come from Zach Scott's production of Cabaret, and its spell was still cast upon us. This production is fabulous; run, do not walk, to see it. Bearing in mind that this is the stage version and not the blockbuster film re-creation starring Liza Minnelli, the story comes off slightly differently, without quite the same focus on the character of Sally Bowles that the movie has. In some ways, it's grittier and raunchier than the movie, though there indeed seem to be elements of the movie throughout. In this production, masterfully directed by Ann Ciccolella, the pivotal role of the emcee, so well-defined by Joel Grey, is, in a surprising gender-bending twist, played by a woman, Susanne Abbott, in a performance that is so deeply perverse and so unspeakably brilliant that I cannot get it off my mind. Her talent is an awesome thing and a living treasure to behold upon the stage. It is imperative that you put Liza Minnelli out of your mind when watching Sally Bowles as played by Meredith McCall, and McCall makes you forget Liza. A resident leading lady, I've seen her in four plays now, and she always turns out a fine, multifaceted, and well-crafted character. Sally Bowles gives her a field day to chew up the scenery in a rip-roaring performance that leaves you wanting more. Her drunken rendition of the song "Cabaret" had a heartbreaking pathos that was definitely not a part of the movie, and McCall does a smashing job of overcoming any comparisons. The jewel of the show, of course, is the legendary Karen Kuykendall in the role of Fraulein Schneider – a role of minimal importance in the movie that is fleshed out to its fullest extent in the stage version, with Fraulein Schneider receiving as much attention as Sally Bowles. Kuykendall is a goddess, and her deeply affecting performance is one more dazzling link in a chain of achievements that she racks up year after year, decade after decade. All the male stars did fine jobs, and the entire supporting cast, sets, lights, and orchestra were excellent. The show was preceded by the Wilde Party, which I co-hosted with my dear friend Bettie Naylor (actually, when she was being introduced as host, I was hoping they'd introduce me as hostess). Robert and I nibbled and gossiped with many friends and Zach Scott supporters, including my good friend Steven Aichlmayr, jazz songstress Sarah Sharpe, the dashing Gary Cooper and Richard Hartgrave, and dozens of others too fabulous to mention. All was divine except when some piece of Eurotrash tried to horn in on my date by caressing Robert's leg and speaking in a suave Continental accent. Robert, who is already previously engaged (and not to me), may have been flattered, but I was not. Suddenly I felt like I wasn't at the theatre, but rather the Boyz Cellar, where anyone's date is fair game.

NOT TO BE MISSED The 11th annual VIVA! Las Vegas is poised to shake, rattle, and roll all the way to the Austin Music Hall on June 19, 8pm-midnight, for a casino event benefiting AIDS Services of Austin and the Capital Area AIDS Legal Project. In true Ocean's 11 style, VIVA! will host extravagant entertainment, including faux gaming, from craps and blackjack to the staple slot machines; the King (Elvis) himself, officiating ceremonies for guests in the Love Me Tender wedding chapel; a honeymoon where newlyweds capture the moment with photos in a heart-shaped bed; "Carol Channing"; a buffet fit for the Bellagio, showcasing over 20 of Austin's best restaurants; hundreds of live and silent auction items perfect as Vegas souvenirs; and a fabulous stage program emceed by Kevin Phinney of KGSR and the always-fabulous Miss Kitty. Tickets to the VIVA! soirée start at $25, or $30 at the door. For the more ambitious "high rollers," a VIP package is also available at $100 for one or $150 for two.

TONIGHT! TONIGHT! This evening, Chloe Moon Productions presents Austin's Elite Fashion Show – billed as "the fashion event of the season" at Oslo (301 W. Sixth). That's a mighty big claim, and I failed in my attempts to secure further information about this event, except that they are showing merchandise from By George, Capra & Cavelli, Goodie Two Shoes, Therapy, and works from five UT design students. Doors open at 6pm, the show begins promptly at 8:30pm; general admission is $10, seats are $15. I'm intrigued, aren't you?

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AAF 23-42

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