A good reviewer isn’t supposed to let their personal biases get in the way of a fair review. So, full disclosure, I am completely predisposed to like Too Blondes. Not only am I am blonde twenty-something, but I also recently moved to New York with big dreams. Sure, I don’t want to be a famous actress– but I do want to be a well-known writer. So, this cabaret about two young women’s desperate search for fame really hit home.
The stars of this two-person show are Chase O’Donnell, the straight woman, and Savannah Brown, who has truly mastered the art of acting dumb. Throughout the show she believes that the performance is about the 1920’s, not the second decade of her own young life. Savannah waves her feather boa distractedly as she bats her wide eyes at the audience, surprised that we’re even there. Yet, in a smart twist, she’s also the woman in the pair who actually knows anything about cabaret. While Chase can only sing Spice Girls songs, Savannah can belt “I Wanna Be Loved By You” like a pro.
Although the premise of the show is that these two young women are “dumb,” they’re very skilled performers. In fact, their ability to reflect so candidly on their personal lives, and their quest for stardom, shows a level of intelligence that many people don’t possess. They wonder aloud: What level of fame will make people like me? How ragged do I have to run myself in order to be loved? In other words, these women are not trying to bring their gender down a peg by playing upon the dumb blonde stereotype. They’re just tackling it in a humorous way.
A highlight of the show is when the two reenact one of their supposed most embarrassing auditions– for the role of Diana Ross, in the all-white movie version of The Supremes. When they reenact the dancing portion, Savannah and Chase masterfully run through at least five styles of dance in two minutes, including hip-hop, interpretive, tap, and ballet. They’re not pretending to be bad at dancing. Instead, they let their technical skills shine.
My biggest critique of the show is the venue in which they’re performing. I enjoyed Too Blondes so much because I could completely relate to the plight of a broke woman, straight out of college, trying to pursue her dreams in 2016. Yet, when I looked all around me, I realized that I was the youngest person there by at least ten years. The majority of the attendees were around fifty. And, while this doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy the performance, I wondered if they were the correct demographic to target. Arguably, Too Blondes is trying to merge the old-school world of cabaret with new-school comedy. Yet, with a show that costs $15 minimum, in addition to two pricey drinks, they’re not going to reach the twenty-somethings who would enjoy their show the most. Especially when the ticket prices for Too Blondes go all the way up to $115. I hope Savannah and Chase will bring their performance to venues that are popular with a younger crowd.
While the humor of Too Blondes is mostly light, there are two moments in particular that are more political in nature. The first is a satirical song about how feminists are bitter man-haters. Yet, the clear underlying message is that every woman should be a feminist, and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot. Snaps! The second, deeper moment of the show comes from a song written and performed by the show’s musical director and pianist, Sheridan Stevens. It’s a love song… with a dark twist. It’s called “Leader of ISIS.” Yep. I’m amazed that someone could make a connection between terrorism, dictators, and true love, but Stevens did it. I’m pretty sure that’s the first, and last, time the word ‘ISIS’ was uttered in a cabaret theater.
The title Too Blondes might scare away any male, non-musical theatre-goers. Yet I implore you to give these two funny, talented women a shot. This production about a fight for fame is for anyone who needs their motivation-tank filled back up. Plus, it’s a great reminder that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Just because a woman is blonde, it doesn’t mean she’s dumb. And it certainly doesn’t mean she’s lacking in talent, either.
- By Chase O’Donnell
- Directed by: Savannah Brown
- Musical Director: Sheridan Stevens
- Cast Includes: Chase O’Donnell, Savannah Brown, Oliver Switzer, Sheridan Stevens
- Metropolitan Room, New York
- Review by Jillian Richardson
- 16 March 2016