In The Mood For Satire
Sidemart and their wash-ups
by Nanette Soucy
SideMart Theatrical Grocery’s contribution to the 15th annual Wildside Festival, Dick Powell’s In The Mood For Jazz is intended to be a spoof on 1950’s lounge acts and the characters in them. Dick Powell, as played by Graham Cuthbertson’s skeezy moustache, is the entitled alcoholic crooning front man to the 5-tux strong Buck Wheaton Trio, brought together at the whim of an obscurely famous Jazz critic to sing a series of duets with his trite and gay as a daisy in May, living cliché of an ex-wife, Laura Thornton for whom he’s been carrying a torch for 22 years plus a day.
It is undeniable that Cuthbertson and Angela Galuppo, in the role of the inexplicably worshiped by the band, Laura Thornton, can sing, and are having a whole lot of fun.
Imagine an overcast or rainy day. Probably a Saturday. It’s cold outside. You have a decent cup of coffee, a good book, a fireplace, maybe even a pipe and a tweed jacket with elbow patches. Amused by the stereotype you’ve become, you decide to turn on NPR to complete the experience. You hear a man with a face for radio, and a voice for print, rattle on about apparently important people you’ve never heard of, doing artistically significant things in places you’ve never been. The man waxes academic about Jazz at a level beyond the scope of any reasonable music enthusiast, and so beyond anyone’s depth is his discourse that you find it easy, if not completely necessary to pay only passing attention. Occasionally, he says something you feel should be fascinating, but isn’t. Sometimes, he says something that makes you do a double-take and wonder if he meant to make that joke. That man is Holly Vanderbilt Houston III, and he doesn’t mind at all, if you’re paying attention because for him, the rambling fulfills a drive to validate inner geekery that is too self-involved to be self-aware. Patrick Costello has such a perfect grasp of both jazz and nerd that his parody of the late-night jazz session host could be its own show.
It is undeniable that Cuthbertson and Angela Galuppo, in the role of the inexplicably worshiped by the band, Laura Thornton, can sing, and are having a whole lot of fun. Their duets are delivered impeccably and enthusiastically, with typical Musical Theatre kitsch in a way that completely misses the tension that should be taking place on-stage between them as they deliver perfectly rehearsed renditions of songs as though there was nothing else to the story that brings together these two wash-ups and their guys in tuxes to play your favourite jazz hits of yore. The band, their matching outfits, intoxication and disdain for Powell, sound great in the intimate Centaur Gallery, and deliver a soundtrack that is perfectly fitting for the bank lobby of the Surette Brothers Savings & Loan.