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Senior Cabaret Opens, Tasteless/Appetites

Senior Cabaret Opens, Tasteless/Appetites

: Picture from earlier cabaret performance. Photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis.

Senior Cabaret Opens, Tasteless/Appetites

: Picture from earlier cabaret performance. Photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis.

Senior Cabaret Opens, Tasteless/Appetites

: Picture from earlier cabaret performance. Photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis.

Senior Cabaret Opens, Tasteless/Appetites

: Picture from earlier cabaret performance. Photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis.

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Theater Seniors cut loose with a free cabaret performance, Tasteless/Appetites, plunging into the Wonder Bread world of Lawrence Welk.

“Squeaky clean”: The Lawrence Welk Show was the classic television variety show that defined the term.  From 1955 through 1982, the show presented Welk and his big band playing for Nice Guys and Nice Gals singing pretty songs and wearing vastly uncool fashions. If there was anything resembling a “cutting edge,” to this enterprise, it was the baked-in creases on the polyester suits. While “longhairs” and “hippies” were taking to the streets to smoke their marijuana “joints,” have their “free love” and demonstrate against the war in Vietnam, middle America could take refuge in the 50s-time-warp that was Lawrence Welk. What younger generations know about The Lawrence Welk Show is from Saturday Night Live, where it is the butt of a popular series of lampoons featuring Fred Armisen (in the Welk role) and Kristen Wiig. For three nights starting December 12, Cornish seniors in the theater department will enter into the disturbing world of Welk in their cabaret, Tasteless/Appetites.

Tasteless/Appetites is offered to the public free of charge at Raisbeck Performance Hall, though due to limited seating, reservations are a necessity through Brown Paper Tickets. It plays at 8:00 p.m. December 11-13. More information. It is conceived and directed by Frances King and Timothy McCuen Piggee, with music direction by Jeff Bell.

As the slash in the title Tasteless/Appetites implies, the evening will be split down the middle. The first half, Tasteless takes place in the sweet, frothy world of Lawrence Welk, recreating it as The Vinnie Durrant Hour of Smiles, complete with band. The second half, Appetites is offered as a detox session, a stiff dose of theatrical insulin to counteract the pound of refined sugar ingested in part one.

The Lawrence Welk Show [is] a reference and framing device,” writes Timothy Piggee in his notes. “The program was noted for its wholesome, clean, scrubbed image. However, sometimes in an attempt to appear more ‘with it,’ the program featured pop tunes that included references to drugs and free love that were somehow lost on Welk and his producers …”

“Our part one, Tasteless, “ Piggee continues, “follows the cast of The Vinnie Durant Hour of Smiles in its struggle to remain hip and relevant, with truly tasteless results.” The All-American boy-and-girl-next-door band will cluelessly perform selections like Afternoon Delight, If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough and One Toke Over the Line.

Of part two, Piggee notes only that it is “an entirely different kettle of fish.” In the rough-and-tumble of cabaret production, it’s good to keep a few surprises on hand.


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