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THE CANUCK CABARET (2014 Frigid New York Festival)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on March 6, 2014

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C_cabaretOne of the best things about the Frigid Festival as a whole is how innovative, experimental, unfiltered and uninhibited it is.  But that’s nothing compared to what happens each night, for while the last show of the evening is taking its bows, UNDER St. Marks gears up for its traditional midnight show.  For five years now there’s been no greater testament to the wealth of talent that gathers for the festival than The CANUCK CABARET which is – yes – a Cabaret but also a bawdy playground where talented performers from Canada and parts south (that would be the good ole US of A to you and me) get an opportunity to congregate in that 45 seat theatre we love after all the FRIGID hub-bub of the day is over.  There, performers and audience and anyone who wants to be there, can experience some amazing performances, and in general just have a blast.  The good news?  There are still a few more midnights to go … The Cabaret is still at full tilt and you’re invited!  The bad news?  After a great 5 year run this is the last year for these Canadians so miss this now and you’ll miss it FOREVAH.

To review the show I saw and then tell you that your experience will be the same is kinda pointless – as well as besides the point.  One doesn’t go down those rickety stairs with a playbook – nor would you want to.  It’s the unexpected, the serendipity of specific audience melding with specific performers that make the magic that you experience. Hell, there’s not even a set running time.  Just arrive at midnight and surrender yourself to the river of performance that will flow.

 Paul hutcheson

Paul Hutcheson [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Two things are constant however: the bar IS always open and the show IS always hosted by the appealing comedic performer Paul Hutcheson who takes care of warming up the crowd, giving introductions and keeping the whole thing moving. I just wanted to convince him to move to NYC so that we could see more of each other – that’s how much fun Hutcheson is, not only as host but as performer — and if his stand up is to be believed then that’s how much fun he is as a person, period.  I think the New York scene needs a few more Paul Hutchesons.

Sharon Nowlan [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Sharon Nowlan [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Revving up the crowd and starting things off RIGHT was Sharon Nowlan who did a little burlesque – Canada style. Which – according to me means lights turned down low while she swirled glowing things in the air.  With perfectly placed maple leafs (yes I said “maple leafs”) she charmed not once, but twice and her closing number (almost 2 hours later) was as delightful as her first performance.

Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Chris Wilson who is from  Toronto got the crowd going with a skit involving a coach taking over a health class for the day. Things get a little twitchy when anonymous questions like “what is love” and other sex-related queries are answered with sports metaphors.

Fay Slift – The Ladybearextraordinaire – was decked out in full tutu, wig and glorious beard. Fay’s first number took the crowd soaring through a pop landscape but later on the audience was on its feet (or at least bouncing in its chair) as Fay raced about in a whole new ensemble – all foam hair and Minnie Mouse hands and perfect “are you gonna stay the night” eyelash batting. Yes, Fay! Yes! We WILL

Matt Panesh – Monkey Poet - was there in all his tall loveliness with that amazing accent pouring out of him.  He gave his background which had a little Liverpool smashed in with a little Manchester and so much more – all I can say is listening to him recite his poetry is something to behold.  I’d seen him all day at the Kraine handing out flyers and was already smitten – seeing him perform did not disappoint.

CJ Sawchyn

CJ Sawchyn [photo credit: KL Thomas]

CJ Sawchyn (Steve Nuggett) of the notorious musical sketch company THE SPECIALS, was there doing something so brilliant it’s impossible to describe.  Suffice to say this guy makes Keith Richards look like your grandmother’s canasta partner.

Antonia Lassar (who is one half of the FRIGID show TINA and AMY) was there with her super good friend (and kissing buddy – and ovary smasher)  Artem Yatsunov (director of BASIC HELP). First of all, seeing them together made me understand why they were so sweet together in their 10 THINGS TO KNOW interviews. Ahh! So obvious. Secondly, seeing them together was just great fun – they sang songs while Antonia strummed the ukulele and told a story that involved a trip to the emergency room after an incident involving (yes, you guess it) Antonia’s ovary. Let me say right now – since seeing this show I have sung the phrase “Big dickery” more times than I can count. That’s the way to do it A&A. THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT.

Jillian Thomas

Jillian Thomas [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Jillian Thomas – originally from Canada but recently moved to NYC after marrying a man who heckled her – not only did some great stand up that illustrated her comedic chops, but she told even MORE stories about host Paul Hutcheson involving a live sex show that made me envy her a little more.

Una Osato, a performer I’ve enjoyed for her work in prior FRIGID shows (notably JapJAP) didn’t disappoint as she took to the stage in a giant Orca costume and swam to that Free Willy song slowly shedding her costume until she was in all

Una Osato [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Una Osato [photo credit: KL Thomas]

her glory – save for pasties and a thong –  celebrating her sweet parts, even those that jiggled – and as the audience cheered and urged her on she jumped high into the sky (or as high as the basement ceiling of USM will allow) and let those babies (or do I mean boobies?) fly free.

Rebecca Parry

Rebecca Parry [photo credit: KL Thomas]

Rebecca Parry of the Frigid show Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl was there too – wooing the crowd with some songs from Suzy Snowflake Entertains The Troops and her red hair and red dress and red-hot number proved that this firecracker from Canada is more than just a pretty shade of claret – she went down as smooth as a fine burgundy.

By the time Paul Hutcheson and Sharon Nowlan were back to do one final closing number that involved fans and flutters and a Pink ballad I was all teary eyed for this Cabaret. In a city that never sleeps this show comes on at prime time. So take the next few available midnights and spend them at UNDER St. Marks where you’ll be treated like an old friend. Do it before they’re gone forever.

Hosted by: comedic performer Paul Hutcheson

Remaining Performances:
Mar 06, 12:00AM
Mar 07, 12:00AM
Mar 08, 12:00AM

Running time: 1 h 0 min
Price: $5.00

Seating: General Admission

UNDER St Marks
94 St Marks Place
New York , New York 10009
1st Ave and Ave A
2nd and 3rd Ave

Horse Trade Theater Group will present the 8th Annual FRIGID New York Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A) February 19-March 9. Tickets are available for purchase in advance at or by calling 212-868-4444. 

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