by Margret Echeverria
You may not know this about me, but I am an accomplished violinist . . . and I was raised Baptist. When looking for a way to play my instrument in church one Sunday morning in the ’80’s, my devout aunt presented me with the simple scores of several hymns I might use to make sacred musical praise on my little fiddle. “Well . . . ” I said, “I want to show off a little bit, too.” My aunt was horrified. “Margret!” she clucked, “Church is not where one is to show off!” What? Did God not give me this talent? My aunt’s instruction pierced my being with the knowledge that I was different because I had a compulsion to be self-expressed out loud. That hole was made a bit smaller by the inspiration of Robert Hofmann in What the Fandango?! A Musical Comedy Cabaret you can see for yourself this Saturday, the eve of World Pride New York, June 29 at 7:30pm at Revelation Gallery.
It used to irritate me to see a show that was not perfectly polished. I wanted every line delivered with perfect timing, every step to be so well rehearsed that it looked spontaneous. Recently, there has been a trend in the theatre to not always be brushed up to a shine, to let the humanity of the performer shine through, to just do it with love and let that be good enough. And I have really begun to warm to this. Hofmann expresses himself freely, mis-steps sometimes, rolls his eyes upwards for a teensy second to remember a line he has adjusted to make a local reference to where he is performing. He is just doing Hofmann and he’s really enjoying himself, so I’m engaged. What is polished beyond expectation is his voice. A gorgeous tenor, beautiful falsetto and a diaphragm with the strength of the Verzanno Bridge. He effortlessly fills the room with sound. And, to the delight of us all, there are moments in which Hofmann interacts directly with the audience, riffing on the moment and expanding the electricity in the room by closing the circuit on our collective humanity. Love is in the room. The expression is sweetly genuine in these live moments, reminding us that live theatre just marvelous!
The show is light. It pokes fun at being a gay man, being a cross-dresser, being accompanied by an accordionist named Ben Dover (Will Holshouser) as well as Hofmann’s six foot six stature in heels no less! Advice from a life well-lived as someone not always tolerated by mainstream folks is tenderly given as take it or leave it. He even sings a torch song that may have your
eyes well up a bit in a sparkly red dress. A member of the audience is brought on stage for a bit of song and dance instruction and this is when the line that hooked me is delivered tongue in cheek, “We are not here to show off. We are here to praise the Lord!” Everyone chuckles because here we are in a church basement just enjoying ourselves and, I don’t know about your God, but mine is very pleased indeed with the showing off of Hofmann’s unique talent. You could totally bring your mom to this show when she insists on being included in your Pride Weekend experience. She’ll love it.
Robert Hofmann and New York-based piano accordionist Will Holshouser will present this tour-de-force for one more night only on Saturday June 29 at 7:30pm at Revelation Gallery, 224 Waverly Place (between W 11th ST and 7th Ave.) All proceeds from the show will go to Ads-Up, the US based network of Australian ex-pats working to support refugees resettled in the US from Manus Island and Nauru. Call your mom and invite her to come with you. Tickets here.
WHAT THE FANDANGO?! written and performed by Robert Hofmann directed by Stuart Maunder.
WITH Will Holshouser, accompanist.
Cherie Hewson, Costume design.