note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey
by Beverly Creasey
If you thought Will and Lil's "Water Show" made a splash, then their "Potluck Cabaret" will have you begging for seconds --- and you can have that second helping on Saturday November 21st at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Will McMillan and Lillian Rozin cook up a light and fluffy theatrical soufflé of scenes, stories, songs and oddities, all centering on "Food, Glorious Food" --- and they cook while they sing!
Aside from the grand notion of gathering all --- well a lot --- of the songs about comestibles, Will & Lil bake, borrow and steal delicious bits from the theater (like the Wolf in "Into The Woods" serenading his meal) as well as from traditional cabaret (like Cole Porter's frisky tale of an oyster who went down and came right up again) and of course, from the fridge.
From social climbing bivalves to the biting satire of Sondheim's "Ladies Who Lunch" Will and Lil serve up treats to ingest as well as digest. Will stuffs celery and passes it around, and Lil makes popcorn while singing the hilarious Stephen Schwartz ode to waitressing "It's An Art". Not a kernel was unpopped.
Both performers are master comedians who can deliver a serious song like Will's touching version of "Feed The Birds" with heart wrenching sincerity. Lil has the vocal range most singers would kill for. She can ride a wild blues parody like the sexy "And I Can Cook Too" then soar to baby-voiced heights in "Peel Me A Grape" and top it off with an operatic roulade... or perhaps it was a remoulade. (Her flair for the comic is reminiscent of another Lil who played with her food, the late, great Bea Lillie. You may recall her signature confrontation, in gloves up to her elbows, with a lobster.)
Will too is a wonderful deadpan, particularly in their S&M version of "Mr. Goldstone": Lil ties Will to a chair, tormenting him with juicy morsels of food. Not even Blue Man Group can match what these two do with a banana. And you can just imagine what they do with the stately Gilbert and Sullivan banquet song from "The Sorcerer" about strawberry jam and "rollicking buns".
The audience gets to watch, and to eat, and to play an edible "Name That Tune" Game complete with prizes both tasteless and yummy. Even their fabulous accompanist Mark Shilansky is inspired to leave the safety of his Steinway and join in on "Just A Bowl of Cherries".
After the musical feast, the audience is invited to an actual repast with goodies enough for a Queen's ransom --- and to satisfy the heart as well as the stomach, Will and Lil are donating a portion of the box-office to the Cambridge food bank "Food For Free".
If you leave the Cambridge Center with a tummy ache, it's from laughing nonstop.