THE GERMAN THING TO DO, INCLUDES A COW AND A DECADENT KABARETT OF NON STOP FUN,
LEAVE YOUR WORRIES AT THE DOOR.
Joel Grey, Alan Cumming, step aside for Zelda Koznoski as the current MC of a world of wonder, sex, cow udders and an evening of Untamed Thrillpeddling madness. Her opening request is to ask us leave beind the three C’s (Cock, Coke and Cunts) yes! Thrillpeddlers are back with their new original show that commemorates THE UNTAMED STAGE. Founded and first performed in 1921, The Untamed Stage got its name from Trude Hesterberg’s Berlin-style cabaret. When the Weimar Republic was put into power at the end of WW I, the government constituted for no censorship, cultivating a Berlin kabarett with politically, socially, and sexually erotic works.
The kabarett movement bloomed until Hitler’s rise in 1933 making most of the performers leave the country, be suppressed or locked up. This made the intimate kabarett-theatres a service platform for artistic movements, social critique, dada-ist anarchists and anti-nationalists. But, they were also pure entertainment, as said by Holler’s, reviews. Scrumby Koldewyn, a San Francisco treasure from the original Cockettes, pays a great tribute with a brilliant quirky, original score. It highlights the Berliners’ practices of women rights, social injustice, openness of being gay, gender-bending, and all things sexually out of this world.
Directed by artistic director, Russell Blackwood, this Thrillpeddlers world premiere production of THE UNTAMED STAGE is highly provocative, insane, and hilariously outrageous. Blackwood has assembled 23 of San Francisco's first-class talent who know how to take it “outside the box” with over the top camp and charm.
The stage is set in a bleak and dark underground setting of a bar/café. This Hypnodrome space is the perfect venue located under the downtown freeway in SOMA with an inviting cave like entrance. The audience is welcomed to a black box stage, tables, and chairs where actors sit, portraying patrons alongside crudely cutout patrons. The cast is a delightful bunch of characters that range from all walks of color, shapes, sizes, ages and sexes. They all beautifully present themselves across the stage complimenting each set of music that reflects the period (where underground Berlin kabarett during World Wars was the center of artistic ingenuity and radical government policies which banned rules against sexuality).
The first half of the show is a welcoming series of one-acts gloriously coined The Untamed Stage Kabarett. Zelda Koznofski as the kabarett’s Master of Ceremonies and ringleader, booms and belts her way into welcoming the audience with “Ich Bin Ein Berliner,” a song encapsulating a Sin-City where no one has guilt. Every now and then she pops onto the stage to tell the story of the next one act, with her inviting and pleasurable tone. Koznofski’s ring leader persona is a sensual energetic marvel which is always captivating. A fun highlight from the first act is the dynamic femme trio of Koznofski, Crystal Why, and Bruna Palmeiro in “How Much Longer.” The song brings up social issues about women’s rights and the endless unneeded pleasuring of men. The three divas hit it hard with their powerful and invoking voices making each lyric standout. Touching the hearts of the sold out opening night audience, the femme trio gets the audience to cheer, whistle, and stomp their feet.
The superb David Bicha solos his way into “Herr und Frau Anstatt” in his German era tux heighten, fabulously fastened by Glenn Krumbholz’ who puts a golden touch to all the gowns and costumes in this kabrett. Bicha has the full proof diva voice for his many appearances through out the two hour romp. Kim Larsen does his best in “No One is Looking.” His camp timing is always on cue. Diogo Zavadzki wears one of Krumbholz’ gowns which is sleek and bottom less --Thrillpeddlers is famous for twigs and berries, and cheeks and their is plenty of skin to see. Zavadzki is sterling in “No No Nola” as well as his electric guitar solo later in the evening.
Not all the blue material is best, but the short bit “Spoogilious”, written by Andy Wenger and Damien Chacona, is over the top shock comedy. It rumbles and roars the audience into “stomp mode”. The Cab Covay number “Dance of the Exhibitionists,” choreographed by the accomplished Marilynn Fowler and dressed by Flynn DeMarco’s fabulous wigs are a well tight sight for THE UNTAMED STAGE. Showing off their adequate voices and bottoms are: Jason Wade, Crystal Why and Steven Satyricon who are wonderful in “Too Decadent for You.” Making his return with Thrillpeddlers yet again, Noah Haydon, also the associate director for this Kabarett, closes the first act in one of Krumbholz’ shimmering gowns. He showcases his solo performance power in “Waiting” and is so elegant as always for Thrillpeddlers’ creations.
The second act is titled “The German Thing To Do - or How a Cow Changes History: A Kaberett Musical Fantasy”, the gracious host, Koznofski, narrates a story of how a cow changed society. It is a completely unorthodox story. It brings out crossed borders of sexual fantasies, furry fun, and full on adulterated action. In the second half, the set is illuminated in German 20’s where citizens promote Aryan conquest. A couple of brown shorts, not to be confused with the real Brown Shirts (played by Bicha and Urban) decide to experiment with Aryan semen that is uproariously extracted in full musical flare. The plan is to inject worthy German youth with the product, possibly making them into perfect Aryan hotties, but those plans are thwarted by a single cow (played by a daring, sweet, innocent, and confrontational, and I mean hard uttered Bruna Palmeiro). The cow’s udders become divine loins of fruits, and the company finds new ways of milking. The score in the second half doesn’t have as much power as the first, but when the full cast comes together it is marvelous.
The songs in the closing act fill the gamic of fun and sex, including “The Existential Cow” and “I Belong to Nobody” sung by Zavadzki along with his electric moment. “Pan Sexual Dora’s Box” performed by the elegant Haydon along with Smith and Bicha, is funny and camp. “Kowma” sung by the zaftig engaging Palmeiro, hosts the highlight of the evening. It is utterly orgasmic and full-on anal fun, making it the single fondest memory of the untamed evening. “Divine Bovine”, featuring the full cast (with fountain of youth cow in the center) brilliantly sparks and lights up the theatre with an attitude invoking peace and tranquility amongst all beings. Each cast member gustoes as they alternate in solos with lyrics like “Ride the Waves of Existence,” and “Tune into the World,” which segways into the foot-tapping ensemble reprise of “Ich Bin Ein Berliner.” This brings the audience back to the joyous stomps of the first act and the near darkness of the Kaiser’s and Fueher’s dictatorship.
James Blackwood’s set design uses the space with its original flair, and draped in elegant stage drops with exceptional visual effects by lighting designer Nicholas Torre. Chris Pauline’s sound design is tested in the second act with an amazing electric solo, and a rich mix, fitting for this German world. Mister WA and Jet directed a stunning video for the second act that works in Haydon and other company members. Some additional cast join the second act story including the frisky talented Cameron Eng, the excellent tenor John Flaw with his guitar, and the crafty Rochelle Urban who is on follow spot when not on stage.
As the cast of 23 + close the show the opening night audience was instantly on their feet for a well deserved “Standing O”. Thrillpeddlers delivers another hit production with THE UNTAMED STAGE questioning the social injustices of Berlin performers. The amazing Scrumbly Koldewyn is a tour de force of music with a captivating score and musical direction. Credit to the other writers include Cab Covey, Martin Worman, Andy Wegner, Alex Kinney, Damien Chancona, and Terence Bennan. It is a sum of old school German celebration and homage to Berliners of Kabarett. This a non-Fosse Kabarett night of new songs and numbers from the Thrillpeddlers team -- and is a “Must see”.
THE UNTAMED STAGE
Weimar Berlin Kabarett
A New Musical by Scrumbly Koldewyn
Directed by Russell Blackwood
Music Director and Original Music by Scrumbly Koldewyn
With Additional Material by Terance Bennan, Damien Chacona, Cab Covay, Andy Wegner, Martin Worman, and Alex Kinney
April 14 - May 28, 2016
575 10th Street, San Francisco Ca.
Video clip below
Photos by David Allen Studios and Bill Selby