Now there’s never gonna be an intermission
But there’ll always be a closing night [. . .]
First impressions are cheap auditions
Situations are long goodbyes [. . .]
—“Intermission (We Were Born To Die)” by Scissor Sisters
Although I don’t believe in the supernatural, cemeteries fascinate me. Maybe it’s the connection with those who came before us and the gnawing awareness that one day everyone I know will die—myself included. It’s against this background that I saw the much talked about annual Fringe event, A GRAVEYARD CABARET, at Laurel Hill Cemetery. I walked into the night, following the little solar lights, passing hundreds of beautiful old gravestones commemorating important Philadelphians.
Suddenly, we hear strange noises and see figures moving around in the dark. Three ghosts, dressed in flamboyant outfits of mourning come into focus. Denise Shubin looks like Miss Havisham, the wealthy spinster who occupies her ruined mansion—”the witch of the place,” as Charles Dickens described her—wearing an elaborate wedding dress. Her adopted daughter, Estella (played beautifully by the Felicia Kalani Anderton, switches from the innocent voice of a little girl to a murderous seductress) entices the audience into her realm, while scaring them away at the same time. Rudy Caporaso conceived, created, choreographed, and costumed the show and stars as Mr. Jaggers, Miss Havisham’s ambiguous lawyer. Dressed like Count Dracula in drag, he jumps up on a mausoleum and whips us into a frenzy with an amazing graveyard voice. Rob Borchert musically directed THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT with songs as old as gruesome Victorian ballads and as contemporary as “I can’t decide” by the Scissor Sisters.
I stumbled out of the cemetery and the dark, and got into my car, still shocked and whistling the haunting songs of the GRAVEYARD CABARET. [Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue] September 11-19, 2015; fringearts.com/they-only-come-out-at-night-a-graveyard-cabaret.