Rollicking, Rambunctious, ROFL The United States of Tamarie at Catastrophic Theatre Rocks, Rolls, and Roars
Tamarie Cooper’s latest ingenious musical comedy creation, her 14th original show, The United States of Tamarie: An All-American Revue (Made in China), blows the roof off DiverseWorks.
The Catastrophic Theatre has a HUGE hit on its hands with this latest version of Tamarie Cooper’s yearly comedyfest.
Tamarie gave birth to Rose, her first child, in the Fall of 2009 and has been busy mothering her so there was no show last summer.
Needless to say, Tamarie’s devoted fans are flocking in huge numbers to see her tribute to all things American (and whatever else she decides to throw into the mix!).
As usual, we can’t seem to get enough of the mega-talented Tamarie, who conceived, directed, choreographed, and co-wrote some of the lyrics in her new extravaganza.
Sharing the gargantuan task of creating the music and lyrics with Tamarie are John Duboise, Joe Folladori, DeWitt Gravink, and Patrick Reynolds.
Overall, the music and lyrics in this year’s summer spectacular seem to be more memorably melodious, more acutely complex, and more insanely ingenious than in past shows.
Patrick Reynolds alone, a Second City alumnae, is credited with writing the book.
What can I say but great things about his writing?
It is funny.
It is enthralling.
It is full of surprises.
It is totally and completely entertaining.
Tamarie’s shows seems to get better and better as time goes by.
Tamarie set out to write a show about what America would be like when her baby girl, Rose, grows up.
What will she inherit?
The second act addresses these issues head on.
The first act sort of meanders around and explores America’s relationship to other countries and the great divide now plaguing America (the only thing both sides agree upon is that they agree to disagree).
Tamarie begins the show and has it all figured out when, suddenly, a wrench is thrown into her well-oiled machine.
Someone from the audience (you know who you are and you are hysterically funny as always) disagrees with her concept of what America is all about and wants her to present America as it is today—honestly and openly with all of its cracks and flaws.
And we are off and running.
The writers take us down so many winding paths that I couldn’t begin to reiterate the journey here.
Nor would I want to!
Let other critics spoil the ride for you!
Tamarie’s show is like an almost 2.5 hour Saturday Night Live or Living Color.
It is intense.
It is horribly hysterical and fiercely funny.
It encourages hollering and screaming from the audience.
It is a wee too long.
Some pieces work better than others.
My most serious rant is that everyone who has a solo passage in a song here needs to have a microphone.
Some songs, like the over the top satirical “Born Again Texan” (my personal favorite), with lyrics by DeWitt Gravink and music by John Duboise, include microphones for the two lead singers, thereby allowing us to beautifully hear all of the clever lyrics.
We get the gist of songs like “Old Glory” (with lyrics by Patrick Reynolds and music by John Duboise), which refers to a certain appendage of the male anatomy, but it would have been much more effective and funnier if solo voices had been amplified.
If there is a band onstage, and there is, then solo voices ALWAYS need to be miked.
By the way, phenomenal musical direction and musical arrangements by Miriam Daly, dressed in a star spangled sequined vest, rules the show.
She is ably backed up by the talented Chris Bakos, Cathy Power, and Kirk Suddreath, one of the best percussionists in this or any town.
The final song, “Tamarie’s American Anthem,” with lyrics by Tamarie Cooper and music by John Duboise, is a spectacular ending that will give you goose bumps and leave you hollering and screaming for more and perhaps participating in a standing ovation as happened on opening night.
I am left wondering what she will come up with for next summer’s show, her 15th, to top this amazing all-American attraction.
Tamarie Cooper is notorious, legendary, and one of Houston’s bona fide star divas if there ever was one.
And she happens to be one of the nicest people I know in real life.
On the stage, she is bigger than life (she mentions this in the show so I am on safe ground here), exploding with charisma, resonating with brilliance, singing with a great crisp and clear always on-key voice, and she can dance and move better than anyone else on that stage.
She was a dance major at HSPVA in her teens.
Tamarie choreographs the entire show with plenty of energy, zaniness, and gusto.
I cannot write enough kudos to Tamarie.
So here is the last one:
Tamarie, you are a comic genius!
And what kind of people do comic geniuses surround themselves with?
Other comic geniuses, of course!
I would venture to say that Tamarie would not cast anyone in her show that is not at least on the lower end of comic genius if not equal to her genius or higher up the ladder of comic genius than her.
One of those people is Kyle Sturdivant.
Sturdivant kills the audience as a conspiracy theorist with a nervous tic, which causes a speech impediment.
He brings the house down with some home grown Texas evangelism as he leads people to be “Born Again Texas.”
Sturdivant is a fixture in Tamarie’s shows and other Catastrophic productions.
His comic genius rivals legends like Jonathan Winter.
The handsome and beguiling Sean Patrick Judge is the perfect Frenchman and introduces a French new wave black and white film which he hilariously narrates.
Judge sternly plays William Henry Harrison, the 9th U. S. President with the shortest time in office.
Noel Bowers is the perfect Asshole and a very funny Boring Future Husband.
Ivy Castle could not be more hysterical as Gretchen Carlson, a FOX news reporter with a huge toothy smile and no brain.
Dennis Draper rocks as Joe McCarthy and a Happy Liberal.
The petit and pretty Sara Jo Dunstan perfectly portrays a Reality Star.
Christian Holmes is superb as Billy Thompson and does a bang up job as the flag choreographer.
The statuesque and stunning Elissa Levitt is perfect as a hyper-parent and serenely serenades us while playing guitar with “Happy Liberal Land” by Joe Folladori.
Richard Jason Lyders-Gustafson is outrageous as Kenny G and excellent as an Obamite.
The beautiful Karina Pal Montano-Bowers, celebrating her 8th appearance in a Tamarie Cooper production, is the perfect Boring Future Wife and a force to be reckoned with as the Happy Liberal Land President.
Rebecca Randall is over the top as the Texas Preacher’s Wife and a Tea Partier.
She shares the “Born Again Texas” song with Kyle Sturdivant and takes it home.
Vinicia Smothers is divine as a Dominatrix and a 30s maid.
Abraham Zeus Zapata is amusing as a Hyper-Parent and perfect as an Obamite.
Costume design by Tamarie Cooper and Tiffani Fuller is imaginative, fresh, and fun.
Set design by Jodi Bobrovsky is focused around an elongated American flag upstage across the entire length of the theatre at DiverseWorks.
Kirk Markley’s lighting design is good except when some of the actors end up in the dark during production numbers.
Tim Thomson does a great job with videos, particularly the new wave French film.
Should you see this?
You are wasting time right now when you could be buying your tickets before the rest of the run is sold out!