|Entertainers Xavier Toscano, Jordan LâMoore and singing board member Brian Yates Sharber. Photo by Rink.
Theatre Rhinoceros is going through a tougher time now than any time in their 32 year history. So what do they do? Why, put on a show, of course! Theatre Rhino rounded up a lot of their regular talent on June 14 and presented âThe 2009 Rhino Benefit Spectacularâ with exquisite song, dance, and comedy. Artistic Director John Fisher acted as the effervescent emcee, bringing on each guest performer with his typical verve and vivacity.
Tom Orr (of Dirty Little Showtunes fame and more) opened the show singing another of his clever, original numbers with his special lyrics to the quite apropos tune of âComedy Tonightâ from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It was the perfect introduction to the eveningâs performances. Out came Rocco the gorilla from SF Boylesque to wield a baton and conduct the audience in an unannounced Bach piece that we were not privy to. Raising the baton, he expected us to sing out. We tried and failed. But that frustrated Rocco, so he brought out a singing stuffed toy duck to take our place. Bizarre! Laurie Bushman (Falsettos) did a standup routine about the misery and melodrama of breaking up: âEven the Muni bus ladyâs recorded announcement kept saying, âPlease hold on,â but I just couldnât.â She joked about the extreme complications of poly-amorous relationships in dealing with âyour girlfriendâs girlfriendsâ girlfriends.â
Gospel singer extraordinaire Dan Strauss brought a touch of class to the place with his nondenominational âIf We Only Have Loveâ by Jacques Brel: âto embrace without fears; we will kiss with our eyes; we will sleep without tears; we can reach those in pain; we can heal all our wounds.â
Matthew Martin (not as Bette Davis or Blanche Devereaux or the many drag personae he plays â but as a good-looking guy) executed a dynamic, difficult, delightful tap dance that wowed the crowd. Sara Moore (Sho Ho, 2002), who once did a sensational one-woman show about joining the circus, had a birthday that night; so we sang her âThe Birthday Song,â ate cake, and enjoyed her return from New York after eight years to her home here in EssEff. Appropriately she sang âSentimental Journey Back Home,â joined by Leanne Borghesi (Falsettos). Moore is working on her new show, Clown 2, an evening of clowns singing torch songs. She also sang a touching song about wishing. Borghesi returned with Nettie Hammar in Two Tons of Fun singing âSistersâ from White Christmas: âLord help the mister, who comes between me and my sister; and Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man.â The two women pulled up from the audience six unsuspecting âvolunteersâ to each hold a one-word sign, bend over, and receive a whack on the ass when it was time to reveal our word from the naughty, double entendre song, âMy Pussy.â We each helped spell out the phrase: âsore, wet, hot, bald, free pussy.â Sister Dana was âhot.â I mean, that was my word to show after being beaten on the butt each time with a riding crop. Sexy Scott Gessford (Rhino board secretary who played in Falsettos) sang âBut the World Goes âRoundâ from the movie New York, New York: âSomebody loses and somebody wins; then one day itâs kicks, then itâs kicks in the shins.â Brian Yates-Sharber (board member and the emcee in last summerâs Cabaret) sang the same-sex switched lyrics to âSqueeze Meâ from Ainât Misbehavinâ: âOh Daddy, tease me, please me,â while jumping into the laps of older guys in the audience in outrageously sexy flirtations. Kim Larsen (board member, The Last Thirty Years, 2007) and Jennifer Ekman (in her Rhino debut) sang what started out as a tender love song between the two, âIâll Love You âTill the End of Timeâ from the movie Moulin Rouge; but each kept winking at a particular same-sex partner in the audience until it became obvious this âheteroâ couple was not the least bit interested in each other, and eventually brought their partners on stage to finish the song properly â arm in arm in same gender love in the olâ switcheroo. Larsen and Goodwin joined in a most amusing duet of âHandling Chargesâ from Shopping: the Musical, now playing at the Shelton Theatre. The song is about the enigmatic scam of putting handling charges on items bought online. We know what shipping charges are, but what are these?
Mike Finn (Moby Dick, 2008) sang a cappella a Muppet love song, âIâm Going to Go Back There Someday ... flying on invisible strings.â He carried a bouquet, plucked each flower, and tossed it backstage - only to have it reappear as a marionette of flowers. Pulling its strings, he made this odd little floral creature come to life, dancing and bowing and entertaining.
David Goodwin (board finance chair) sang âMr. Cellophaneâ from Chicago, and -despite the lyrics - was hardly âinvisible, inconsequential, never know Iâm there,â especially when he belted out that final note that seemed to last forever.
Xavier Toscada aka Mister Sex did a really hot hip hop dance pop ân lock/ rap and singing interpretation of the great Sylvesterâs âYou Make Me Feel Mighty Real.â Then he pointed to Sister Dana. Wowzers! Tom Orr, who will return to the stage to do part two of his celebrated âThong Songâ entitled âCrass Act,â came back to sing from âThongâ his hit Inquirer/Star tabloid stab at the stars to the tune of âWitchcraft,â his hilarious lyrics for âBitch-slapped.â Paris, Britney, and Lindsay: watch out! Tomâs gonna bitch-slap you! Then Martin joined Orr to do a 30-year review of Rhino shows to a rewritten version of Sondheimâs lyrics of âIâm Still Hereâ from Follies: âLetâs give a toast and three cheers!â Yes, hereâs to Rhino!
The show closed with the winner of last yearâs Rhino contest as Miss Carol Channing, the gorge Jordan La Moore, singing âIn These Shoes?â, who made a point to tell me backstage that she was wearing Kate Winsletâs old high heels. They were fabulous and so was she. As was everyone that night - offering their awesome talents to keep the Rhinoceros alive and charging ahead at mainstream mediocrity. Please support the old gal by attending their shows and donating what you can at therhino.org. And now if you click onto Amazon.com from Rhinoâs homepage, a portion of what you pay will come back to the Rhino! You get what you would buy anyway for the same price. Thatâs rhinoriffic!!!