“Come to the Cabaret!” is Smash Hit!
Off-Broadway (About 3000 Miles)
volume:  
volume 3
issue 1
Spring 1977

Never in the annals of Show Biz has such a dazzling array of stellar talent been assembled as graced the musical-comedy spectacular “Come to the Cabaret,” a raucous, irreverent and jazzy funfest presented in celebration of Gloria Martin’s birthday.

Produced by the FSP and Radical Women in honor of the FSP’s indomitable organizer, the Cabaret brilliantly succeeded in merging the satirical and the serious, the hushed and the hilarious, the paltry and the political. This was Entertainment!

Freeway Hall was transformed for the occasion into a teeming night club strikingly bedecked with period posters, abundant glitter and candlelight.

Gourmet dinners and a la carte delicacies, accompanied by such exotica as champagne cocktails, the “Gloryah! Special,” and “The Red Scare” (Cuban rum and strawberries) were served with a flourish by dedicated waiters sensitive to every gustatory yen of their customers. An elaborately designed scarlet menu tantalized the palate with such savories as Spanakopita, sizzling Guacamole, succulent Crab Bake, Baklava, piquant Matzoh Dip and tender barbecued salmon.

But even the incredible bill of fare was overshadowed by the continuous, stupendous and improbable Floor Show, directed and orchestrated by impresario Randy Patterson, a singer-accompanist-arranger phenomenon unrivalled in the radical theatre (and the theatre of the absurd).

The M.C. chores were masterfully (mistressfully?) juggled by Tamara Turner with aplomb, élan and caustic savoir faire.

The revue opened with luminaries from the superb Bread & Roses Chorus warbling a medley from “Pins and Needles,” the Broadway musical produced by the ILGWU in the 1930’s. Monica Hill, discreetly garbed in basic black, captured her audience with the doleful melody, “Nobody Makes a Pass at Me,” and Beth Brunton sang an enchanting version of “Chain Store Daisy or Vassar Girl Finds a Job.” Cindy Gipple was the proverbial riot in. the satirical aria, “Sing Me a Song of Social Significance.”

A lightning-like change of pace ensued as three “Roller Derby Queens” — Su Docekal, Sam Deaderick, and M.C. Turner — skated onto the stage and somehow became the Bronte sisters. The delighted audience was treated next to a take-off on singer Sophie Tucker, the last of the red hot mommas, by Clara Fraser, dressed to kill and belting out the blues in similar style.

An expert rendition of selections from “The Mikado” was offered by vocalists Joanne Ward, Helen Gilbert, Russ Lyons and Randy Patterson, and the crowd warmly applauded the contemporary jazz numbers of prizewinning high school musicians Jonny Fraser on flugelhorn and trumpet, and Robert Damper on piano.

One side-splitting skit depicted Organizer Martin’s troubles in guiding the campus work of Comrades Lenore and Marcel, who had a strange propensity for reporting emergencies to her promptly and regularly at 4:00 a.m. Another weird and wonderful melodrama featured U. of W. swim-star Lori Lakshas strutting around as a muscular and macho lifeguard extravagantly admired by Kathy King and her sister groupies.

Space limitations prevent the description of many other superstar performances, but the hilarity was leavened by Guerry Hoddersen’s stirring interpretation of Langston Hughes’ poem, “Good Morning, Revolution,” and a charming children’s chorus which sang “We Shall Overcome” and recited a poem for Gloria.

A professional chanteuse, Marlene Fonteney, wowed her listeners with a bravura rendition of French cabaret ballads. and Lois Harris closed the show with a rollicking version plus encores of “Accordion Boogie.”

The entire Cabaret production, skillfully organized by Max Reigel, was a heartfelt tribute to the affection and respect accorded Gloria Martin-an expression of appreciation for her unstinting labors for socialism for more than 40 years. Over 100 well-wishers — her family, comrades and old friends from the community — joined happily in registering their common admiration and congratulations.

The Cabaret entertainment, moreover, truly reflected and expressed Comrade Gloria’s personality. One of her many significant contributions as FSP Organizer is her talent for instilling in others appreciation for art, music, literature, drama, dance and popular culture. “Cabaret!” could not have swung as successfully as it did were it not for the experience gained by Gloria’s comrades in organizing radical-theatre cultural and social events under her tutelage and inspiration.

Comrade Gloria loved the show, laughing so hard at times that she cried. She particularly enjoyed the fact that everybody was having fun. Life in radical politics involves high purpose and serious work, but it also offers unparalleled opportunity for recreation, humor, sisterhood and fellowship, and “Cabaret!” represented this aspect of socialist humanism. It served as a fitting symbol of the kind of life that Gloria leads and exemplifies.

“That was the greatest show on earth,” she enthused. And it was. They loved it in Seattle.