"Shootin' the Shit " Brings Laughter and Love

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Shootin' the $#!% -- Kranzberg Arts Center -- 01/31/15

If you follow the theatre scene in St. Louis beyond the Broadway tour shows at the Fabulous Fox, you will probably recognize their names: Zachary Allen Farmer, Jeffrey M, Wright, and Todd Schaefer. They’ve performed in a wide variety of shows across the St. Louis region, and most recently performed together in New Line Theatre’s brilliant Hand on a Hardbody last spring. Each bring something unique to their roles and this past Saturday night was no exception as the terrific trio took the tiny stage at the Kranzberg Arts Center to perform an adult cabaret set entitled Shootin’ Some $#!%, directed by New Line Theatre’s Mike Dowdy and featuring the music direction and piano playing of Paul Cereghino. It was a one night only show, and if you missed it you missed out on a wonderful hour of song by three excellent voices and ending that you won’t see very often on any stage.

Cabarets are something of a throwback to the golden era of theatre, where actors, singers, dramatists and burlesque performers would entertain diners or drinkers at traditionally non-theatrical venues. The seating for this event, while still in a theater, was set up around tables for people who purchased adult beverages. The St. Louis stage veterans each gained the audience’s attention in their own ways: Todd with his humble, understated manner and pleasantly upbeat song choices, Jeffrey with his charm and wit, and Zachary with…well, you never really know what you’re going to get from Zachary, but if you’ve ever seen him perform you know better than to ever look away. Expect the unexpected, such as opening with “Three Amigos,” then sliding over to Dreamgirls for “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” and then making the trek from the Apollo to a Texas parking lot for Hands on a Hardbody’s “Hunt with the Big Dogs” I expected the set to be all theatre numbers, but Todd surprisingly went back to oldies radio for the Jonathan Edwards 1971 classic “Shanty,” with Zachary strumming the guitar. Zachary followed that with an eye-opening rendition of the hilarious “Guvment” from Roger Miller’s Big River (I wouldn’t mind seeing what Scott Miller would do with that one) and Jeffrey performed the Kenny Rogers classic “The Gambler” and finally helped understand a lyric that I never was 100% on before. I hope I can hear him sing Elton John’s Rocket Man someday.

Other highlights included the trio doing an amazing job on Guys and Doll’s “Fugue for Tinhorns,” which must be challenging to do. The song has each singer doing a completely different verse simultaneously. Todd’s cover of “Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Itch” was both sweet and silly, Zachary broke out “Why Should I Worry from “Oliver and Company,” the 1988 animated feature starring Billy Joel, and Jeffrey went old school and then some with Noel Coward’s “Nina,” a golden gem that Jeffrey does with this mock-Zsa-Zsa Gabor voice that drew great laughs. The hour went by much too fast, especially after Todd’s inspired idea to create Avenue Q-style puppets for “Big Ass Rock” from The Full Monty. They fit the song so perfectly you’d swear it was from Avenue Q.  Their final song was the bouncy “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the movie “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian,” but that wasn’t quite the end of the evening.

Zachary brought his lovely lady Wendy Renee to serenade her with “Stay with You (John Legend, I believe—Zachary has a knack for the soulful songs), and then dropped to one knee, which had people in the cozy Kranzberg confines rising to their feet. It wasn’t the smoothest draw of the magic little box in history, but he recovered the fumble nicely and looked even more earnest for it. He asked her the big question, and she happily said, “Yes!” As thrilled as I was for the talented couple--Wendy is an actress herself—I do feel bad for whoever has to follow that ending at the next Offline Cabaret. Congratulations, Zak and Wendy!

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0