On March 19 Thrillpeddlers opens its 2015 season with Jewels of Paris: A New Original Parisian Revue. According to the company, “Inspired by the artistic revolution erupting in Paris nearly a century ago, Jewels of Paris is a time-travel-ing tuneful testament that revels in love, life, artistic, social and sexual change.”
The production features original music and lyrics by Scrumbly Kol-dewyn, who also serves as musical director and accompanist. As a founding member of the Cockettes, Koldewyn composed songs for Pearls Over Shanghai, Hot Greeks, Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma, and other shows, which have been revived over the past few years by Thrillpeddlers. The award-winning musician/per-former has appeared with the vocal groups The Distractions and The Jesters, and has contributed songs to an estimated three dozen original theatrical productions, including The Untamed Stage, a 1920s-era Berlin cabaret, and Wilde Boys. Koldewyn collaborated with Pam Tent on previous Cockettes revivals; this time he’s writing on his own.
Russell Blackwood, Thrillped-dler’s founder, directs the extrava-ganza, which reflects the theatrical trouper’s origins staging Grand Guignol productions, as well as Blackwood’s personal love of all things French: “Notre Dame de Paris, actress Sarah Bernhardt, and pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès.”
Inspired by Les Cockettes de Paris and L’Etoiles du Minuit, Koldewyn has developed a fresh, fun, evening. The show’s title comes from a vintage Cockettes song. Kol-dewyn is particularly excited about “L’Hôtel Dangereux,” written for the dungeon sequence as an homage to Serge Gainsbourg.
The opening number, “Every-one’s a Genius in Paris Today,” in-vokes Cole Porter, Erté, Stravinsky and many others to highlight the artistic creativity associated with Paris in the 1920s. “Gert’s Postcard” celebrates the role of the important American postmodern writer, who, with her partner, Alice B. Toklas, made Paris their home.
The show references “Paris of the West”: San Francisco’s current social, economic and political situ-ation, with wit, humor and music. A number entitled “Façade” pokes fun at characters inspired by Picasso, Cocteau, Satie, and Leonide Mas-sine, the famed creators of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes produc-tion “Parade.” The big production number, “C’est la Bouche,” satirizes the French’s emphasis on paying proper attention to life’s pleasures, and of their professed ability to savor everything.
The cast includes, in multiple roles, Steven Satyricon, Michael Soldier, Lisa McHenry, Christine Wonjung, Kim Larsen, Roxanne Redmeat, Bruna Palmeiro, Hayley Nystrom, Diane Nathaniel, Andrew Darling, Chris Kuckenbaker, Any Wegner, J. Iness, Birdie-Bob Watt, Noah Haydon, and Jack Crow.
In addition to the songs, there are two shor t plays, including “Bearded Assets”, the tale of a liaison between a mute ticket-taker and a bearded lady in a hotel room above the mourners of the recently deceased Victor Hugo. A running gag through the show features a couple of unsophisticated Damon Runyon characters commenting on and questioning the goings on. A Marie Antoinette character sings “Let Them Eat Cock”, the sad clown character Pierrot wonders “Why is it so Chic to be Tragique?” and there’s a Coco Chanel-influenced fashion show. Obviously this soirée holds nothing sacred.
Previews: March 12, 13 and 14. Opening night: March 19. Ends: May 2, The Hypnodrome, 575 10th Street; http://www.brownpapertickets. com/event/571738.