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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 6 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 27
Freedom Fantasia a feast of flag-waving fun
Arts & Entertainment
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Freedom Fantasia a feast of flag-waving fun

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

FREEDOM FANTASIA
The Triple Door
Through July 8


Things don't always happen the way we remember them. And a good case can be made that history, particularly American history, didn't always happen the way it is recorded. In fact, these days, if you asked someone, 'What date does Independence Day fall on?' they would almost certainly not say July 4.

Be that as it may, DeLouRue Presents, the production company of Kitten LaRue (The Atomic Bombshells), BenDeLaCreme (Homo for the Holidays), and Lou Henry Hoover (The Cherdonna and Lou Show) don't mind: Freedom Fantasia, a liberty-encrusted, justice-soaked, apple-pie pageant of patriotism, banks on the fact that Americans often times don't know much about & well, America.

Freedom Fantasia features some of Seattle's finest entertainers. The diverse cast of drag, cabaret, music, burlesque, and contemporary dance all-stars hits the spot. Taking audiences on a trip down memory lane through song, dance, and strip are BenDeLaCreme, Kitten LaRue, The Cherdonna and Lou Show, Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales, Jamie Von Stratton, Jim Kent, and Markeith Wiley. Each of these performers does an amazing job of standing out when they need to and blending in when needed. Because of this, the show does not feel lopsided and never wanes. It just doesn't get better than this.

I was in the audience for the July 3, 10:30 p.m. Freedom Fantasia at the Triple Door (216 Union St.) and feel compelled to tell you that this production is not to be missed. The writing is brilliant. That's right - I said 'writing.' The dancing, singing, and what-have-you are superb - there's no doubt about that - but what I am continuously struck by whenever I see a DeLouRue Presents production is how smart the comedy is. BenDeLaCreme (DeLa) plays a loveable halfwit who, in pure 1950s American housewife ignorant bliss, screws up American history during her narrative to the audience. She does so in a way that perfectly meshes together dates, places, people, and pop culture products with social and political statements from America's sketchy past and present & in the wrong order, of course. You simply could not parody history as well as DeLa does, unless you actually know history. DeLa also understands that timing is everything: where most political satirists would go off on a tangent, DeLa gives the audience less preaching and more comedy. This works particularly well when DeLa is discussing the meaning of freedom with a talking bald eagle (voiceover recorded by Waxie Moon) and debating the accuracy of her retelling of early American history with the Statue of Liberty (Kitten LaRue).

Opening night marked the second annual Freedom Fantasia. Last year, DeLouRue debuted the show at Century Ballroom's West Hall and received such good feedback (and ticket sales) they decided to move the show off the Hill, to downtown Seattle. That's risky. The Triple Door venue is larger, costs more, and many a Queer performer will tell you that filling it for six shows would be no easy task. I think they made the right choice. The venue is a perfect match. And at $22 in advance or $25 day-of, Freedom Fantasia is a great entertainment deal.

There are some standout performers in Freedom Fantasia - certain characters reach out and grab you. Kitten LaRue (who somehow manages to mix burlesque with Toby Keith) is the cat's meow as Lady Liberty. LaRue, speaking in a French accent, chastises DeLa for getting it all wrong. Again, the writing is superb as the two trade jibes masterfully, void of forced jokes for cheap laughs (there is not one word of profanity written into the entire production).

The Cherdonna and Lou Show, a dance-based performance duo who use the artifice of drag to reveal something true, are a welcome addition to any production but in Freedom Fantasia they really shine. Playing a number of different characters throughout the show, from George Washington and Betsy Ross to Abraham Lincoln and a Minuteman, Cherdonna Shinatra and Lou Henry Hoover add their brand of comedy, dance, and character to the portrayals. When the two come together to broadcast a 1950s coffee commercial, insanity ensues as they dance-fight on the floor in a choreographed scene of hilarity that sends the audience into fits of laughter and their child (Jim Kent) into fits of tears.

Kent (who also plays a buffalo that, once shot, turns into an American Indian) and Markeith Wiley (a breakdancing man on the moon) are important to the production. Kent is a mesmerizing dancer and Markeith likewise commands the audience's attention.

Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales are a well-known cabaret act in Seattle. In Freedom Fantasia they play annoying (yet funny) cowboy and cowgirl TV personalities who sing a cabaret-style country yodel with perfection. Jinkx lends her amazing vocals to the show in several numbers including a song about pie and baseball, and duets with DeLa in a parody of Katy Perry's 'Fireworks.' Major is the perfect cheeseball as he fills in as everything from a civil war solider to a singer in a barbershop quartet.

Performer, dancer, and costume designer Jamie Von Stratton gave the audience a surprise when she performed a burlesque number - while roller-skating and, with the help of a barbershop quartet, turned things like a boot or bra into giant cheeseburgers. I know it sounds like an acid trip but it was really funny and sexy and represents all that is great about Freedom Fantasia - a show where you come to expect the unexpected.

DeLouRue Presents calls Freedom Fantasia a 'stage spectacle to celebrate and satire the exhilarating highs and questionable lows of America and Americans.' I would agree with that. Freedom Fantasia is more than just a theatrical extravaganza of song, dance, and burlesque. It pokes fun at our shortcomings and gives us hope for a better tomorrow. You will laugh and smile and forget about the world gone mad for a while.

Freedom Fantasia reminds us all that entertainment and politics do mix. At the end of the show BenDeLaCreme announced that two cast members were engaged to be married. Only they can't just yet, because of a referendum campaign that has put marriage equality on the November ballot. DeLa urged everyone to Approve Referendum 74 to keep our state's same-sex marriage law. It was a beautiful moment. It was appropriate and I applaud the cast of Freedom Fantasia for lending their talents to such a fine piece of theater where entertainment and activism dance on the same stage as politics and drag queens.

There are only four shows left, so make sure you purchase a ticket in advance for July 7 or 8, 7:30 or 10:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets can be purchased at www.tripledoor.net or call (206) 838-4333. The Triple Door serves a full dinner and cocktail menu during all shows.

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