The setup: A particularly high style of cabaret is in performance through November at Music Box Theater. This second production from the newly minted troupe is called Damaged Divas of the Decades, and if that title alone doesn't propel you to Colquitt and Kirby, what kind of theater queen are you?
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The execution: As the only cabaret in the Bayou City, Music Box is like a classy Manhattan nightclub of yore, intimate and boozy, sophisticated and in-the-know. The troupe's five performers, all locally known and highly respected in the musical theater world (Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Cay Taylor, Luke Wrobel, Colton Berry), have musical talent to spare and intriguing personalities to blend together when necessary and to cause sparks when needed. It's a bracing mix and, vocally, is unchallenged anywhere in town. As pros, they know through instinct and training how to put across a song. They also know how to entertain.
As a tribute to music's self-suffering icons, from jazz's Etta James and Billie Holiday to rock's Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks to pop's Barbra Streisand and Mama Cass, the entire evening is solidly entertaining. The musical spectrum is rich and varied: a Jim Beam-infused rendering from Dahl of "Me and Bobby McGee," Scarborough's patented falsetto in "Big Girls Don't Cry," Taylor's spot-on Streisand in "Get Happy," Wrobel's heartfelt "La Vie en Rose," and Berry's absolutely wickedly hilarious take on Liza or his simpatico treatment of Patsy Cline's "Crazy." Guest host John Gremillion plays a William Shatner emcee and an assortment of crafty personae to lead us through the evening.
The verdict: While the divas may be damaged, the show is without blemish and first-class all the way, leaving you breathless with the formidable talent on display. As the Kander & Ebb song says, if life is a cabaret, then I love a cabaret, especially this one. Cabaret just doesn't get any better.
Through November 13. Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt. 713-522-7722. $25-$35.