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    Bay Area Cabaret’s 2022–23 Season: Meow Meow As the Opening Act of the Series

    By Patrick Carney–

    You know you are putting the COVID-19 funk aside (at least temporarily) when you find yourself all dressed up and passing through the elegant lobby of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill as you make your way toward the posh and historic Venetian Room for the first time in three years.

    Little did my spouse and I know what was in store for us.

    It was a one-woman extravaganza, not just a solo singer on a stage with piano accompaniment. Indeed, Meow Meow is a gifted singer—plus she sings in three languages sometimes within the same song: English, German, and French. However, she is much more than a terrific singer; she is a comedienne—and a zany one at that—a glamorous clown.  She can also weave a tale that keeps the audience quiet as a mouse when she sometimes whisper-sings with vivid, crisp enunciation as the audience waits with bated breath for each syllable to be sung. Long pauses don’t work in most shows, but they sure did here.

    Considering some of her tunes date back to the freewheeling days of the Weimar Republic in Germany’s socially unconstrained capital of Berlin, I expected this show was going to be in the mold of the movie Cabaret, with similar musical numbers as well as a subtle education thrown in about the atrocities that were to about come. (This assumption came from my 27 years of spearheading a giant Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks.) At the show’s beginning, she suggested we need to go back in time to go forward, but insisted we mustn’t ever repeat the past. Her show was a repeat of nothing; it was an all-new brilliant web of storytelling, songs, and comedy—all of which came with a few subtle reminders rolled in to hint at the general cruelty and sometimes despair in the world with a bit of passion and pain thrown in. 

    She even brought her own props:

    • She came with her own flowers to hand out to front row audience members so they could shower her with adulation by tossing flowers at her during ovations.
    • She came with her own fog machine to add “ambiance to the room.”
    • She came with her own mini spotlight to make sure she was lit correctly and often proceeded to direct the lighting crew on where and when to shine their spotlights.
    • She came with a mannequin dressed in a matching wig and similar sparkling dress to her own, which she dragged onstage so she could take a rest while sitting down on the stage’s edge while singing as the mannequin stood in her place at the mic.
    • She later had the stage crew slowly spin her while she stood on a tiny round disc she brought since the Fairmont’s stage could not rotate at the flip of a switch.
    • To highlight her physical comedic talents, she picked two audience members to help support her body in some very unusual positions, but first she had them wrap in COVID-prevention gear including plastic smocks, gloves, and masks— all the while making fun of the default positions (sexual) they automatically revert to.

    In preparation for her final number, she exclaimed: “I want to be completely honest with you,” as she reached into her extremely low-cut strapless gown and pulled out her falsies and gave them to an audience member. She then held her fog machine again in one hand and the mic with her other as she belted out one last sultry song surrounded by a cloud of swirling smoky steam coming from her fog machine. The crowd roared with laughter as well as admiration and appreciation for this unique comedian who can also skillfully tell clever tales while singing spectacularly.

    If this is any indication of the kinds of performances coming our way during the Bay Area Cabaret’s 2022–23 Season, it is going to be a glorious run. Break out your fancy clothes because Cabaret is back in San Francisco.  

    For more information about Bay Area Cabaret and to purchase tickets to upcoming shows:

    Patrick Carney is the founder of The Pink Triangle project and a member of the San Francisco Arts Commission. As an architect, he participated in numerous complex renovations and historic preservation projects including being on the renovation team for San Francisco City Hall, serving as a project architectural designer for the San Francisco Columbarium master plan, and volunteering for 23 years on the award-winning Hamilton Building restoration.

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on November 3, 2022