REGGIE’S BRODIE: A VAUDEVILLE EXTRAVAGANZA
by Mister E of Dead Flowers
It’s dusk. I entered a dreamy red tinted courtyard In NoLibs containing a pair of fire spinners playfully doing their thing outside of Philadelphia’s celebrated RUBA club. They were entertaining a small crowd of early birds and Showies. I saw my partner in crime standing off to the side yukking it up with an interested crowd member. “Aliya!” I shouted across the entry way. We weren’t here to perform but rather to be spectators of the sideshow queen of Philadelphia.
Reggie Bügmüncher’s (Regan Brunettie of Cuthouse Productions) was presenting her latest endeavor – Reggie’s Brodie: A Vaudeville Extravaganza. You may ask, “What is a brodie?” According to the producer it means “To be stuck in an unmitigated flop. From the name of Steven Brodie, who in 1886 freakishly survived a jump of the Brooklyn Bridge.” This event was unlike any other featured in the Fringe Festival. It promised a world class showcase of variety performers not just from Philly but all over the country, executed in the classic style of a Vaudevillian Cabaret. I was in for a treat.
“So are you guys ready for a show?” I inquired with a devilish grin on my face.
“We can’t wait to see what Reggie’s got in store. We don’t know what to expect.” Roc answered, downing a redbull and lighting a smoke.
We were about to have ourselves a classy night on the town. After mingling with some of the audience members outside we decided to enter the comely looking domain that is the RUBA club. I was especially excited for the event because I had never been to this particular venue before. We walked up two flights of staircases past a grandiose, ballet style looking mirror and into the main hall. The stage was really something to marvel. It was sublimely lit with a lush hand painted forest scape back drop, framed by two definitive ruby red curtains. I was impressed. It looked like we were in for quite the extravaganza.
After we got upstairs I rushed over to the bar to grab a quick drink. I decided to class it up and try something different. “A Stoli Martini. Dirty of course.” I said to the bartender. We planted ourselves in some seats in the middle of the room and within a matter of seconds we were greeted by the emcee for the evening, Danny Borneo (brother to the mastermind behind this production). Danny and Reggie make up two thirds of the Olde City Sideshow. He was casual and foul-mouthed during much of his act. He was somehow both charming and crude at the same time.
Shortly after Danny dove into his intro he brought out the first performer. As the iconic red curtains were drawn, a purple haired woman in a flapper get up emerged onstage. Eyrie Twilight greeted us with a seductive stare. Eyrie is the founder of Black Tassel Boolesque as well as producer of the Beauty and Brains monthly at the infamous Raven Lounge. Her first number was sexy, classic and a little spooky. Eyrie was followed by a knockout vocal performance from songbird and former Hellcat girl, Candace Ryan.
The show reached intermission and we we’re all thoroughly entertained and having a blast. There were even two cigar girls working the room at attempting to hustle their wares. “This is too good! It’s so…Vaudevillian.” I say to Aliya.
After intermission Reggie took a moment to introduce herself to the audience. Her smile radiated with confidence and charisma. She had natural stage presence. After she was done saying hello she dragged out a cherry red box which appeared to also be a collapsible bed of nails. The contraption was opened its “little pricks” (as Danny called them) were revealed. Reggie lied down on her back, pressing her against the many dagger-like spines. If you thought that was daring enough you’d be wrong. She was then pinned down to the bed by a pair on uncomfortable looking cinder blocks. But that was not all folks. Danny assisted in demonstrating what a badass Reggie really was by smashing said cinder blocks with a sledge hammer. This lady was tough, tough as nails.
Later, ventriloquist Dave Deenan (aka Mr. DeadGuy) kept the crowd in stitches with his masterfully crafted handmade puppets and gag humor. Fire and flow artist, Moflow razzled and dazzled us with her glowing hoop dance. Gal about town, Kristin Minsky (of Providence, RI) added a timeless sophistication to the show with her velvety voice and an unexpected tap dancing number. She was a true Vaudevillian. Sicilian Queen, Maria Bella, performed a scandalous black widow number, pulling all the stops along the way. The entire production featured all live music from band leader, Thomas Maxim Guerin and his crew. They kept the show glued together with their smart renditions, old and new. The night ended on a high note as the performers all took a boy together on stage.
The bottom line:
Reggie’s Brodie was a well thought out production from start to finish. The entire cast clearly put their heart and soul into it. It’s such a breath of fresh air to attend an event like this one. The performers were wildly talented, fun to watch, and exciting to look at. It is the perfect formula for a great variety show. This collective of pros adds an extra spice to Philadelphia’s beloved Fringe Festival. Reggie’s relaxed but daring persona is always a pleasure to watch and she hits it out of the park with this production. She makes a relic like Vaudeville relevant to the general public.