Photo Credit: D. Sabella
Review: Guest Contributor Tommy Vance
Don’t Tell Mama
March 1, 2019, 7pm
To Boldly Go Where No Cabaret Has Gone Before
As a Sci-Fi loving comic book nerd from way back, I was excited to see a show called FanGirl. I assumed a ride was in store that would transport me to galaxies far far away and across the genre, and on that matter, Ms. Kidwell absolutely delivered.
From the moment she entered in her TARDIS Dress (a Doctor Who reference), it was clear she truly was a “Fangirl” in every regard. Throughout the evening, Kidwell gave us fun definitions of the lingo of her fangirl existence and great anecdotes about meeting Kate Mulgrew or Alex Kingston. About being a Trekkie or Whovian. And all about her favorite movies and TV shows. She even ran together a medley of theme songs, including a particularly clever interpretation of Law & Order.
From the moment she entered in the aforementioned TARDIS dress, there was no denying she was a bundle of nerves and excitement. Unfortunately, the nerves seemed to best her as she tried to make her way through the first song. Lyrics faltered and she seemed to be unsure of what to do with herself as she sang. Marvel pun aside, “Too Marvelous For Words” by Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting seemed an odd choice to open a show about Marvel Comics, Star Trek and sitcoms. Her second song, “Becca the Fangirl”, an original piece by Ms. Kidwell’s ever attentive Director, Gretchen Reinhagen, and lyrics by Kidwell herself, was a far better choice as it set a more congruous tone and lets us know just what we needed to know about her. Perhaps this song should have opened the show?
Her song selections were eclectic and varied from Rachel Bloom to Cyndi Lauper, from Fiona Apple to Paul Simon. Mostly, the songs she chose fit in with the overall story she was trying to tell but also seemed ill-fitted her voice. Either too high or too low, she varied between chest voice to head voice without the vocal prowess to make the transition smooth or comfortable. And, as the notes got higher she seemed to waiver in her control of pitch.
There were of course some lovely moments. After her stroll down TV memory lane, which noticeably brought her into a major comfort zone, she seemed momentarily calm and connected more genuinely as she moved into Lauper’s “Time after Time”. The nerves, however, didn’t’ stay away for too long. And, Kidwell seemed to lose steam about halfway through.
The rest of the evening fell a little flat with one lovely exception. Her final numbers were a reprise of “Becca the Fangirl” and an original song called “Right Where I Belong” by Music Director Tracy Stark. They gave her a lovely moment to say all that she may not always have liked about herself, all that made her so different, really lead her to a deeper love and acceptance of herself. Beautiful to witness, in this number, Kidwell exemplified Cabaret at it’s best. More of this truth and honesty would have been welcomed earlier, as it would have offered an opportunity for a through-line that showed her vulnerability but led her to this very powerful self-actualization.
Overall, it was clear that Kidwell loves her world of all things dorky. And she loves singing. He abundant exuberance was contagious and you couldn’t help but root for her. I, personally, would love to see her put this show up again in a year or so with a slightly altered script that allows for an emotional arc, and a bit more vocal training under her belt.
Make it so Number One!