Review by Amy M. Frateo
You might think that a show with women talking dirty is not empowering but you’d be incorrect. Rev. Mary and Granny’s Blue-Mers turned out to be witty, enjoyable, and ground-breaking.
Rev. Mary is singer/producer Mary Elizabeth Micari and Granny’s Blue-Mers is a group of talented individuals all set on providing more than just songs with dirty words but a fascinating piece of history.
The premise of the show is the presentation of songs – ranging from the turn of the 20th century to WWII – in which clever lyrics and brilliant double-entendres are employed to tell the stories of some really ballsy women. Some of these women are known to us today due to their transcendence into mainstream culture, like Mae West and Bessie Smith, but there are others that, due to race and social status, have all but disappeared, like Lil Johnson and Barrel House Annie.
What they all have in common was a knack for a clever turn-of-phrase that would make Cole Porter take notice.
The rollicking hour plus showing at New York’s definitive cabaret, The Duplex, started with a national anthem of sorts called “Wild Women Never Get The Blues.” Right from the start, we could see that the titular Rev. Mary will be a joy to behold. Visually and vocally, she was a grand, sexy siren with a pair of lungs to die for. Then the fun began lyrically. With a wink, she extolled her man and how he “stands out” and how her chauffer “rides” her and, of course, exactly where her “king-sized papa” was king-sized. Rev. Mary gave us sultry with the flirty passive-aggressive “Don’t You Feel My Leg” and the winking-admonishment, “Don’t Come Too Soon.”
She was joined by a straight-faced ukulele and harmonica playing Liz Rabson, whose deep tones created guffaws from the crowd on tunes like “Keep Your Hand Off It,” “You Stole My Cherry,” and the really clever “Mr. Insurance Man.”
Powerful ladies such as these need backup boys and Mario Claudio fit the bill well. He had his own moment in the spotlight with a crowd-pleasing “Pete The Butcher,” in which meat and knives all got REALLY phallic.
A really clever device used in the show came later on when a woman seemed to jump onto the stage to offer to join the band. What we got was Emmy Pai singing “Wild About That Thing.” This old-fashioned red-herring let the audience sing vicariously with the comedic Ms. Pai, as if we are all permitted to talk-or- sing dirty.
Rev. Mary’s band was top-notch: Dan Furman on piano and Nori Naraoka on Bass, both playing like they were oblivious to the sexual innuendos, adding even more reason to feel part of the private club that Granny’s Blue-Mers created.
The night ended where it all began, with a national anthem. This one, bluntly called, “Do Your Duty,” could very well have been a shot-heard-round-the-world for the sexual revolution of the 60s.
Rev. Mary and her troupe, when the laughter dies down, should be commended for presenting a show about strong women in a time when there were too many reasons to be weak; singing of their desires when there were too many reason to not have any.
Next time I attend, I’ll sing along!