By Stanley Allan Sherman
© copyright October 2, 2012
Keith Nelson’s – Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show that is the first Monday of every month can be great, mixed or part torture. Keith is always refreshing to see, no matter what he does and he will do almost anything. The show at Dixon Place is only $5 so even if you run into a few bad acts it is a good deal. Although one famous juggling teacher did tell me after one of Keith’s Variety shows – “Yes it is only $5 but after that show Keith owes me at least $8.” This evening was more than a $5 dollar show.
With this type of show there will usually be at least one act that you could have done without. I was not planning to review the show so here are a few of the great highlights from the October 1, 2012 Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show, which I really enjoy.
Bathtub Jen and the Henchmen – is from the other side of the tracks. The opening starts with an off stage argument and a fellow with a Russian accent playing an accordion enters and introduces Jen, who has one leg with an exotic wooden leg from the knee down that is a piece of art of itself. This is of course is a very odd threesome and they all play music, sing and do this intriguing variety act. Fighting between Jen and her husband is constant back and forth. Yes it gets raunchy and beautifully ugly. It comes out that Jen is having an affair with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. We hear this strong voice singing with an orange street cone megaphone. It is none other than one of my favorite variety and clown performers Glen Heroy who does a masterful Ray Kelly. Doing an erotic dance with Jen and ends of course with Ray Kelly playing the spoons. Fun performance. The bathtub website of Jennifer Harder, Charley Layton and Glen Heroy is http://www.jenniferharder.com/bathtub.html
Sweet Soubrette, is a singer playing an electric ukulele. She is beautiful, funny and strong performer; her two songs have an affect of melting you. Keith’s placement of Sweet Soubrette in the show was also well balanced and perfect. Her website is http://www.sweetsoubrette.com.
Michael Trautman – was kicking around town from the Clown Theater Festival at The Brick Theater, which just ended the day before. Michael is a tall seriously funny man wearing a cowboy hat and has a western swing to his act. He shoots all kind of thing. He is a marksman. Only thing is instead of a gun, he shoots ping-pong balls out of his mouth. His vest is loaded with ping-pong ball as a gunslinger wears bullets. The vest is used and at the end of the act Michael has shot about 50 ping-pong balls out of his mouth. Hitting, cans, coins flying in the air and many other joyful fun skills. It is Michael’s attitude that makes the whole act work. http://www.michaeltrautman.com
Mark Hayward and Jonathan Burns are a very funny team and work well together. One is a yo-yo champion the other just plain funny. http://www.markandjonathan.com
Gooper Junior – by: Billy Schultz; one vital area that the Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show serves is for performers putting a new act together and experienced ones testing out new material. This is new material by Billy Schultz and the second time I have seen it. The piece is getting better. It is unusual and fun. Gooper is a fiddler and the music is good. Soon the audience is singing “O Susanna” while Gooper plays. It is all about wrestling an imaginary critter, which he does. As part of a variety show it is perfect, as we do not expect what is going to happen, differently funny.
Also on the bill were Apollo Riego, Kasia Jarosz, Ross Moreno, Justin Cooper, Kitt Sincane and a surprise. Keith ended the show practicing his plate spinning. Last month Keith got 7 plate or bowls spinning while flipping several spoons into to tin cans at the same time. This night Keith went up to 8 bowls but only got 5 bowls spinning at the same time and of course he was his classic variety host. http://www.bindlestiff.org
Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show takes place the first Monday of every month at Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St, New York NY http://www.dixonplace.org