“Pepito Pepito! Where is my Chicken Bread?”
No, it is not the call of a restaurant cook, nor the beckoning of a streetcar vendor, but the nagging demands of a French Cabaret Madame, (played by Baltimore Native Sophie Hinderberger) inside the theatre of a Highland Town venue- The Patterson. Run by a group of Artists and Educators known as the Creative Alliance. Pure entertainment for the senses on a Friday evening that will have you giggling and almost crying with roaring laughter at what the Characters from the Company Pepito’s Clowndemonium Revue have to tell you about life and its little delightful imperfections.
The Patterson façade is lit up at night to attract theatre and art buffs or anyone in search of fun for a reasonable fee. Once in, the ample foyer and hallway has on display the works of artists and there are also welcoming hosts that make you feel at ease with their warm smiles. At the end of the hall was a cue to enter the Theatre. Adjacent is a small bar to order your drinks before entering. As the audience made its way through the passage, the Cabaret Spirit was already evident. The red walls and the two foreign accent hostesses with their colorful and festive costumes collected the tickets. The Madame was already waiting and welcoming with her deep and foreign voice and wearing a Black dress with white polka dots. Her make-up would make Betty Davis and Marlene Dietrich feel flattered that their spirits lived on this woman’s image.
Upon passing through her, before us was a proscenium stage with the red curtains-behind it. Just like a Cabaret! Perhaps what was missing was the seating arrangement. Since Cabaret, normally has people seated on tables, this was different, as we were seated in rows. Not that the effect of the warmed up audience was less achieved, but this examiner’s guess is that it might have been greater, if small tables had been placed.
There was music in the air as well as a warm buzz of expectation and a roaming creature with a red and white striped costume that was coloring people’s faces. This was the sweet and endearing Pepito. Not quite an adult, not quite a child, just a tall genderless creature with a big heart and a bashful small voice. Pepito, played by Z Smith moved swiftly but with a rapid small nervousness that made her front vertical pony tail dangle as he searched for already seated people to paint faces. Locked around his inside elbow like a baby was his green cabbage. Pepito’s fixation for this vegetable made the row seated behind me giggle as he moved back and forth with it on his right hand and with a paintbrush in the other. All of a sudden I thought of Chekhov’s Yepihodov. Audiences always marvel at the expertise of a Clown. This is one of the aspects that make a real clown a Clown. In that, in spite of all the quirkiness and flaws that makes us laugh at him/her, we always end up loving him/her because of his warm heart and his/her expertise. There seated on my row looking on to the empty stage with my 3year old niece and my sister by my sides, I knew that this show was promising, because I already knew that the creature painting me a flower on my face within 30 seconds was a real clown. It was the welcoming presentation of the Show by Program Manager Megan Hamilton that set the show to a good start with her friendly voice, warm presence and confident poise.
The next 2 hours had all the audience, laugh with delight at the display of sketches that the troupe of actors from the Circus Finelli had devised. Dr Fantastic was probably the one that made the audience’s cackles more pronounced at the beginning. This was achieved by the effect of storytelling at its best. The actors Molly Shannon as the Doctor’s assistant and Luz Gaxiola as Dr Fantastic managed to present through Gestic movements, vocal projection, clarity; word choice and timing that the newly product “Water H2 WOW” would be the answer to all our life’s miseries. Of course this was a satire sketch that echoed the myriad of “magical” potions that we are bombarded with on TV that never seem to give us the desired results.
What seemed to have the audience in awe was the acrobatic show of Pepito and Madame. The elements of Status, so essential for Comedy were definitely established. “Pepito, I want to sit down and have my Martini. Make me a table!” There went Pepito (without resignation) to do a handstand where Madame would pose her Martini Glass and then scratch the sole of Pepito’s shoe to light up a match to smoke a cigarette. “Pepito.Peeeeeeeeepitooooooooooo! Get me a drink!” Pepito would scuffle nervously to the bar and order a Martini, but his ID gadget could not disguise his young age. So, back went Pepito to Madame to inform of his failure to buy a drink and another acrobatic stunt sent Madame to be extra tall and thus be able to buy a drink.
The second half of the show was filled with yet more comedy. Only that this time Pepito, Madame, and the other characters from the first half such as the puppet “The Mayor” and the Brazilian Dancer were no longer there. Instead we were presented with a music group from Texas led by Country Diva Dorleen and her sister. The array of musical instruments was a true treat to the ear, specially when Dorleen’s sister played with a collection of colorful bells. Additionally,the song “Chicken Bread” made all the audience participate in the song by singing the chorus.
It was the complicity between the actors and musicians that made this show exceptionally entertaining and never boring. The audience was at all times engaged, an audience where children, adolescents and adults shared a space to laugh. A show for all ages. A show just like Brecht wanted his plays, to always engage the audience and yet permit his actors to show the many skills that they had to offer to be true entertainers.
Dorleen and Her Cowboy Puppet will be playing today( March 26th) at the Black Cherry Puppet Theater (Show not recommended for Children).