The Bod of Avon

Dear Constant Reader,

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Once upon a time, in a different medium, I used to write up show reports. It was much easier when we did simple revues and not full length shows, often with plots. Still, it was a good habit and I’m going to get back into it. Here, Gentle Reader, without Much Ado, is the set list and a little commentary about The Bod of Avon.

All of the acts in this show were inspired by a work by William Shakespeare. Note I say “inspired”, or as Scratch said “interpreted through a burlesque-shaped lens” (insert appropriate hand gesture here). We weren’t recreating scenes from Shakespeare.

As I’ve mentioned before, we had to keep a minimal set for this show because of the requirements of the venue, so each act had a video projected on the back wall in lieu of scenery. Some of them were quite clever.

All of the photos were taken by Hans Wendland at our second preview at Oberon.

The Bod of Avon

Scratch, Ginny Nightshade, Lara Pollack: Introduction
In the darkness, they recited opening lines from Shakespeare plays, some famous, some more obscure.

Evie Sphinx, Stella Diamond, Ginny Nightshade, Lara Pollack: Henry V (“Drink Up Me Hearties” from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End)
King Evie fights battles, receives her crown, and knights her loyal followers, all while shedding clothing and armor. Black-clad Stella, Lara & Ginny play the opposing army, Evie’s subjects, and scenery.
Video: The St. Crispin’s Day speech, in a Star Wars-style crawl

Mina Murray: The Tempest (“Green Sleeves” by The Musicians of Swanne Alley)
This act was several years in the works and I’m so glad to finally have presented it. I originally thought of myself as being Queen Titania, but we already had a Midsummer act, so I became Ariel. It was a toss up between that and Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet. There’s no shortage of faeries in Shakespeare. I’m really happy with this costume, which came out pretty much as I wanted. I have to thank Jeff McBride for the magic coaching and suggestions that formed the core of this act.
Video: Butterflies

Stella Diamond: The Taming of the Shrew (“I Hate Men” from Kiss Me Kate)
We certainly weren’t the first to re-interpret Shakespeare. We had to pay tribute to the great Kiss Me Kate. (Seriously, songs by Cole Porter? We’d have been fools to ignore that opportunity.) Stella’s got a great Broadway voice and excellent comic timing. She lounged against the bar, insulting male patrons as she sang. None of them seemed to mind.
Video: none (the stage was dark as the crew quickly cleaned up my mess.)

Betty Blaize: Antony and Cleopatra (“Melancholy Serenade” by Tommy Dorsey)
Betty’s tribute to the Queen of the Nile, longing for her Antony. There’s no striptease, but who cares — Betty dances with a sword. She routinely stunned the audience when she balanced it on her head and then slid into a low lunge and down onto one knee (while wearing high heels, no less). I love Betty’s costume for this, which I suspect was made from one of the many saris she brought back from India. Scratch introduced her as a performer with “great pyramids and a killer asp”.
Video: The pyramids at Giza

Brigitte Bisoux, Lara Pollack, Scratch: Sonnets (Sonnet 29/”Summertime” by Scarlett Johansson/Sonnet 18)
We couldn’t present a tribute to Shakespeare without acknowledging his work as a poet. Brigitte wanted to present a modern dance to a spoken word piece, so everything worked out nicely. Lara recited the first sonnet (“When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”, then there was a little musical interlude, and Scratch read the second sonnet (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”). Poetry in motion, Scratch called Brigitte.
Video: A beach scene

Devora Darling, Ginny Nightshade, Mina Murray: Macbeth (“Pantaloons” by Tape Five)
We were the Three Weird Sisters, only cuter. Devora had a magic wand that forced us to take off our clothes. When we joined together against her, the wand wouldn’t work against its owner and we had to rip off her clothes the old-fashioned way. Many thanks to Scratch for building us a wand that would come apart into 3 sections on cue.
Viedo: A montage of witches from the Middle Ages to the present day


Betty Blaize, Devora Darling, Ginny Nightshade, Mina Murray: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“Yes Sir! That’s My Baby” by The Firehouse Five Plus Two)
We had 2 couples running away into the woods, but sadly, both the guys wanted Hermia (Ginny) leaving poor Helena (Me), sad and unwanted. But I upstaged everyone in the end! Most amusing part of this act was Betty & Devora in white suits, kind of like the one Scratch was wearing to host.
Video: A forest (just outside of Athens)

Scratch: King Lear
Scratch tells the story of King Lear using 3 cups (to represent the 3 daughters), one of which is concealing the serpent’s tooth (a very sharp, 6-inch long metal spike). Cordelia (an audience member) mixes up the cups and then Scratch, demonstrating Lear’s willful blindness to his daughters’ treachery, smashes his hand down on one of the cups. One of the empty ones. Then to represent Gloucester’s actual blindness, he dons a blindfold and with Cordelia as his guide, chooses between the remaining cups. He says that the difference between a comedy and a tragedy is often one character making a decision — the wrong one and it’s a tragedy. The right one? *SMASH* All’s Well The Ends Well. This is a very tense piece with the actual possibility of injury and I find it hard to watch.
Video: none

Brigitte Bisoux, Butch: Twelfth Night (“The Object of My Affection” by The Stolen Sweets/ “Roller Coaster Blues” by Diana Dors)
Brigitte & Butch dance adorably together until Brigitte goes in for a kiss and comes away with Butch’s mustache. Butch is slowly revealed to be Stella! Everyone’s favorite moment is when Brigitte reaches into Stella’s jeans and pulls out a couple of long socks knotted together. From backstage we would hear this huge swell of laughter and know they had just revealed The Dick Sock. Everyone loved The Dick Sock.
Video: Illyria High School

Devora Darling, Evie Sphinx: Danse Apache (“The Disillusioned Guitarist” by Zum)
I’ll be honest with you. This act wasn’t actually inspired by Shakespeare. Evie & Devora created it for The Wrathskellar, but Devora wasn’t able to be a part of the show, because of several broken bones. They planned to perform it at the Marathon, but a week before, Evie broke her foot. (From now on everyone gets bubble wrap suits.) It was just too good to allow to go fallow, so Scratch put it in this show. He thought about making it our tribute to Richard III (“Was ever woman in this humour wooed? Was ever woman in this humour won?”), but decided to use it to show the power of the sort of simple stage devices Shakespeare would have used and how the audience was willing, nay, wanted, to believe. Special thanks to Richard Gilbert of R&D Choreography for the violence.
Video: Red velvet curtains

Ginny Nightshade, Scratch: The Merchant of Venice
Scratch says that during the research for this show, he found a reference in Pepys’ diary to a scene in The Merchant of Venice which did not appear in the First Folio. He and Ginny recreate that missing scene. It’s actually an old burlesque comedy routine, known as “Post Office”. Yes, it’s old and corny, but still fun.
Video: none

John J. King, guest singer: Hamlet (“Ophelia” by John J. King)
From Denmark With Love, a James Bond/Hamlet mash-up opens in May and we thought it would be appropriate to give our audience a sneak preview. Creator John J King and a roster of lovely singers presented “Ophelia” (to the tune of “Goldfinger”). The picture shows Emily Hecht, but we were also graced by frequent Babydoll songbird Alissa Coates and a couple of others whose names I can’t remember right now.
Video: “From Denmark with Love” image

Betty Blaize, Brigitte Bisoux, Devora Darling, Evie Sphinx, Mina Murray, Stella Diamond: Finale (“Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” by Joe Jackson)
As the show began, so did it end, with disembodied voices quoting Shakespeare. This time they were asking questions (“Is this a dagger I see before me?”) occasionally peppered with the title of this song. I will confess, this act didn’t have much to do with Shakespeare. It’s been the finale to our last couple of Valentine’s shows and we like it a lot. Sometimes Scratch sings it for us, but he got a break this show. And we got new parasols! I do like the mix of colors; it makes us look even more like a flower garden.
Video: Flowers

And that, Constant Reader, was The Bod of Avon and we hope it was done As You Like It.


Published in: on 25 February 2013 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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