Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bugle Boys, Oct 28 2015 ***

Written by John Livings
Chapel off Chapel, until Nov 1 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Wed Oct 28, 2015
Stars: ***
Full review also published Herald Sun on Friday 30 Oct 2015 (p87). Should be online at H-Sun on Monday Nov 2. KH

The Bugle Boys L-R: Maxene (Jon Jackson), Patty (Michael Dalton), and LaVerne (Andrew Dessmann)

Picture US servicemen sporting 1940s wigs and blue, satin army uniforms doing a parody of The Andrews Sisters in a World War II Concert Party and you get Bugle Boys.

This spoof, written and directed John Livings, features three local singers in drag playing the famous wartime sisters, Maxene (Jon Jackson), Patty (Michael Dalton), and LaVerne (Andrew Dessmann).

Livings is responsible for tribute shows about Etta James and Marvin Gaye, but Bugle Boys is a naughtier, less respectful mockery that relies on caricatures, cheeky repartee and innuendo as much as it does on memorable songs.

The direction is bumpy, cueing needs tightening and the writing of comic banter is a little flabby, often predictable and almost always spicy and suggestive – just like a drag show.

The three performers do plenty of eye rolling and mugging to the audience to heighten the jokes but better comic timing would give the gags an edge.

Musical direction by Mark Jones provides strong harmonies, although they are obviously not as close as The Andrews Sisters’, while Greg Riddell playing piano on stage gives a zippy accompaniment.

Jackson’s Maxene gets progressively more soused as she/he sucks on her hip flask of Bundy and totters clumsily across the stage, but his falsetto singing (Maxene was the soprano) is one of the highlights, particularly in I Wanna Be Loved and Bei Mir Bist Du Shön.

Dalton, who is known for his drag character, Dolly Diamond, gives Patty a wheezing, earnest quality as she leads the trio in its repertoire of tunes and narrates the details of their chequered childhoods and adult careers.

Dessmann’s LaVerne is sassy, dim and, according to all their gossip, promiscuous, which makes him seductive and salacious as he sashays around the stage, singing and dancing his saucy choreography (Jeremy Hinman).

There are plenty more songs to appeal to devotees of The Andrews Sisters, including: Rum and Coca-Cola, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby and, of course, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, with a real bugler onstage.

You won’t get a genuine homage to the Sisters in this one-hour cabaret/comedy but, if you like a drag-show parody, Bugle Boys may suit your taste.

By Herbert

Michael Dalton,  Jon Jackson, Andrew Dessmann

 The Andrews Sisters - the real ones!
The Andrews Sisters

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