Photo Credit: Bjorn Bolinder
On the eve of the mid-term elections,which time may record as a turning point in the history of our era, Jeremy Lawrence under the guise of Tante Fritzi (Aunt Fritzi) transported the audience at downtown hotspot Pangea to the twilight of the Weimar Republic when the fate of nations and their most vulnerable members hung in the balance.
It was in this liminal backdrop that Mr. Lawrence presented Lavender Songs: A Queer Weimar Berlin Cabaret. The show consists of subversive and witty sex-drenched gems written or performed by Jewish and Queer who resisted the looming threat of fascism that would soon overtake the world stage. Mr. Lawrence provided the English translation for these texts. Ariela Bohrod accompanied at the piano in a show directed by Jason Jacobs.
Mr. Lawrence’s Tante Fritzi roused the audience to life-affirming gaiety without ever losing the grave import of the moment; past or present. The present evidences no dearth of impassioned political thought but seldom does it present so artfully.
Tante Fritzi assures us that she’s the “only relative who won’t give you advice–so don’t ask.” She paints the scenes and lets the audience come to their own conclusion without ever being demure in her politics. She’s no shrinking violet and lets us know so at the outset jauntily declaring “We’re not afraid to be queer and different if that means Hell, well Hell we’ll take the chance” The Lavender Song (Kurt Schwabach and Mischa Spoliansky).
The show was savagely funny, unflinching, and unapologetic in its politics and liberatory demands. No more so than in The Jews Are To Blame (Frederick Hollender and George Bizet) which transformed Carmen’s familiar aria L’amour es un Oiseau Rebelle (Love is a Rebellious Bird) popularly known as the Habanera with a subversive irony that rebelliously gave those who scapegoat others “the bird.”
But there were also moments of great tenderness. In Peter, Peter (Frederick Hollender and Rudolph Nelson) Tante Fritzi melted strident hearts and dampened cheeks—tears fell with ease.
To close the evening Tante Fritzi left the audience with a solemn benediction: “May It Be A Beautiful Tuesday.”