THREE CHORD FICTION: LOVE BITES (BRAT): A Riotous Night of Rock-Theater Cabaret

Señor Papos and Jota (Photo courtesy of BRAT Productions)

Señor Papos and Jota (Photo courtesy of BRAT Productions)

BRAT Productions, Philly’s foremost purveyor of fearless rock-and-roll theater, rocks the Tin Angel with a new installment of its Barrymore Award-winning series THREE CHORD FICTION: LOVE BITES. Running for three consecutive nights, each show pairs a different live band with an outrageous roster of gender-bending cabaret performers to tell a musical tale of love. Loaded with drag, camp, and kitsch, rest assured that BRAT’s pre-Valentine’s Day celebration is not your usual Hallmark holiday!

The first show featured a set by Brooklyn indie rockers The Fancy Balloons, following three scenes by a hilarious nightly line-up of irreverent cabaret artists with big costumes, big hair, and even bigger voices. Señor Papos and Jota’s “Love, Betrayal, & Ham” offers a flamboyant Spanish-language send-up of Latin passion and flamenco, while asking the question “Who’s your baby-daddy?” Head BRAT Jess Conda, as her male alter ego Len, performs “If You See Her,” a poignantly nerdy tale of a marital split and an anxious suburban husband’s lingering love for his ex. Closing BRAT’s first act is the dynamic duo of super-vixen Red 40 and super-sized drag sensation Cleo Phatra in “Cleo’s Rules for Obtaining Stardom and Overall Fabulosity.” The saucy pair was backed on opening night by two super-hot members of The Fancy Balloons—drummer Ben Diamond and lead guitarist Matthew Klauser, whose “pansexuality” and skin-tight pants inspired appropriately bawdy ad-libs by Red and Cleo.

Jess Conda as Len, with Victor Fiorillo on keyboard (Photo credit: Kory Aversa)

Jess Conda as Len, with Victor Fiorillo on keyboard (Photo credit: Kory Aversa)

Edward Krosney joined his bandmates on bass for The Balloons’ second-act performance of original songs, a high-octane cover of The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” and a mash-up of Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love” with Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good”—a perfect match for the powerhouse vocals and audacious attitudes of the cabaret acts. Next up are the mad cowboy diatribes of TJ Kong and Dan Cask on Wednesday, Feb 5, and the surrealist rock and jazz of Upholstery on Thursday, Feb 6. Also joining the cast for the last two nights of Conda’s cabaret segment are the ladies of The Cursed Church Theater Ensemble. Who needs flowers and chocolates when you can have BRAT for your Valentine treat? February 4-6, 2014, www.bratproductions.org

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.