T-6: The Evolutionalia

Tamarie Cooper sits at a small table at Brasil, a Montrose-area coffeehouse, pencil in hand, laboring over a piece of paper. It's the choreography for a dance number in the final scene of Tamalalia 6, the upcoming installment in the Tamalalia series. Founding artistic director Jason Nodler and other members of the show's Infernal Bridegroom Productions are alumni of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA, longtime record holder for the world's longest bumper sticker).

"Now we're total saps," Tamarie says. "We have those moments now, after shows, when we're like, 'Ah, who would have thought when we were 15 that we'd be doing this?' " The shows have grown along with her. The particular dance number she's working on requires 23 people.

The series continues to be a crowd favorite, raising enough money to allow the team to do riskier productions the rest of the year. Among their accolades is the 2000 Sauza Tequila "Stay Pure" Award for Tamarie's innovative fashion design. This time around, Tamarie and the Infernal Bridegroom cast find themselves in a prohibition-era speakeasy run by T-Grrl herself, with Andy Nelson as gangster Butch Knuckles, and "ten -- count 'em, ten -- gorgeous showgirls," leaving room for some elegantly kooky song-and-dance numbers, and making T-6 even more intoxicating than a round of Sauza shots.

Tamarie does not arrive at the speakeasy via the time machine from last summer's show. This is not a continuation. Some may wonder why this Tamalalia doesn't pick up where the last one left off, as has been the trend of the past several productions. A consultation with the Tamalalia timetable indicates the last episode ended on a fantastic high note. "We sent each other off as rock gods. You can't really get much better than that. Why go back again?" Tamarie says. "It's still Tamalalia, it's still silly, it's still in the summer. You'll see a lot of the same people in it, I'm still Tamarie in it, but it does have a different formula."

Within the Tamalalia world, the relationship between Tamarie and leading man Andy evolves as well. They have become a modern-day Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, on the road from one madcap misadventure to the next. Prior to T-6, Tamarie outlined the story in detail and Andy filled in the dialogue. This time, Tamarie cajoled Andy into writing some lyrics, too. The results have been tremendous, Tamarie says.

Last year's performance addresses the Tamalalia FAQ "Will you ever run out of ideas?" with a hypothetical answer: Tamarie sells rights to the show to a corporate sponsor who strips it down to a schmaltzy annual schlockfest. The question is a relevant one, especially when topping the previous year is essential, moving from one year's stunning to the next year's stellar. "I wonder if one of these days nothing's gonna come, but so far so good." To date, each time Tamarie and her compatriots grow a little older and their friendships get a little stronger, the show gets a little stronger -- and wilder -- as well.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman