The first thing most people must have noticed when they heard the title of the cabaret show that played at The Duplex in early June, Michael. Amy. Whitney. Karen. Kurt, is that all these singers are no longer alive. In fact, it soon becomes apparent, when the singers greet each other that they are in some sphere of the afterlife, be it heaven or hell.
Each singer quickly establishes his or her personality. The sleazy-looking, guitar-toting Kurt Cobain (Jesse Tyler Moore) tells us performing is not as much fun as one might think. Amy Winehouse (Jenni Lark) downs her liquor and dispenses wisecracks and obscenities. Karen Carpenter (Samantha Aneson) enters and immediately asks where the bathroom is. Whitney Houston (Jasmine Thomas) is looking for somebody named Bobby. Michael Jackson (Jason Dwayne Wells). wearing his iconic hat and tight jeans, enters last, alternately clutching his hat and his crotch.
Clearly, John Capo, the creator of the show, is betting that most people in the audience will know enough about Michael, Amy, Whitney, Karen and Kurt to understand the innuendo. And judging by audience response, he was most certainly correct.
During the show, these stars make many references to how they lived and died. Their narratives are accompanied by renditions of the songs that made them famous: Michael has “Dirty Diana” and “Billie Jean”; Amy has “You Know I’m No Good” and “Tears Dry on Their Own”; Whitney has “Miracle” and “I Will Always Love You”; Karen has “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays”; Kurt has “Come As You Are” and “Heart-Shaped Box.”
Whitney and Michael make a duet of “I Look to You.” Amy, Kurt and Whitney all sing “Rehab” for obvious reasons. Michael has yet to arrive, or he would have been singing the song too. Karen isn’t in on this one (maybe she’s in the bathroom again), but she does sing “Top of the World” with Amy, Kurt and Whitney. Perhaps inspired by the optimism thus expressed, Michael makes his appearance with the next song.
The idea of writing a review around the life and songs of singers who die young by their own hand (directly or indirectly) is interesting, if not exactly intriguing. And Greg Schlotthauer’s music direction is fine. But the performers who impersonate these stars must either have the ability to capture their charisma or be able to substitute their own. Unfortunately, although some of these performers have adequate voices, and Thomas’s is even much more than adequate, none have that special quality that separates an icon from a star, and a star from a singer.
By the end of this show, most people may have been wishing Michael, Amy, Whitney Karen and Kurt were still alive singing their songs themselves.
Legends Live: Michael. Amy. Whitney. Karen. Kurt. is a new concert musical about the life and music of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Karen Carpenter and Kurt Cobain. Part concert and part biographical drama, the show offers an insider’s look at the life of each singer, with performances of the artists’ biggest hits and a celebration of their shared legacy.
$20 Ticket in Advance & a 2 Drink Minimum in the Cabaret Theatre $25 Ticket at the Door (plus service fee) & a 2 Drink Minimum in the Cabaret Theatre*
*Drinks Must be purchased In the Cabaret Theatre to count towards the Minimum
Performances will be held on Thursdays at 9:30pm from June 2 – 16 and Friday, July 1, 2016. Tickets ($20 advance/$25 at the door plus a 2-drink minimum) are available by visitingwww.purplepass.com/theduplex.