by: Paulanne Simmons
Although it has many of the same elements, Mrs. Smith’s Broadway Cat-tacular is not your typical drag show. In the first place, writer/actor and performance artist David Hanbury, stars as Mrs. Smith, not Liza Minnelli or Judy Garland, although he does sing a few of both diva’s songs. And secondly, he’s backed by two very talented male singers and dancers who are not in drag, Brandon Haagenson and Ken Lear, a.k.a. “The Broadway Boys.”
Nimbly directed by Andrew Rasmussen, the show is mostly cabaret, but it does include some very funny video and a plot line. Mrs. Smith is about to have a total mental and physical breakdown. Her beloved cat, Carlyle (both on video and as a puppet), has gone missing. She’s tried psychoanalysis, and new age therapy, but as a theater creature, her only real solace is onstage.
Mrs. Smith is appropriately outrageous and over-the-top throughout her tale of woe, from her youth as a “rich white girl in Boston, Massachusetts,” through her childhood vacations in upstate New York (where she rescued Carlyle from drowning at the hands of the Village Moron), her rise to theatrical fame with Carlyle, and her fourteen marriages.
Most of the major moments of her life are accompanied by song: “One Night In Bangkok,” “Ladies Who Lunch,” “The Man [now Cat] that Got Away,” with appropriate lyric substitutions. Never was a cat so celebrated in music.
On their tour of the world’s most exotic locales: “Paris. Marakesh. Poland,” they met many famous people. “Carlyle started going through a ‘spiritual’ phase. Hanging out with the Maharishi and George Harrison, wearing white linen robes.”
Even after Carlyle disappeared, Mrs. Smith was not so distraught to turn down a birthday brunch with Pat Nixon, which, thanks to Mrs. Smith’s passion for Benadryl and grapefruit juice, turned into a pie-throwing free-for-all.
Mrs. Smith has lots of opinions… on gay men, gay women, Oprah and husbands (“You know, when I think about those first 13 husbands they didn’t know a lot about how to love a woman, but luckily they did leave me with a lot of something I do love and that is MONEY!”)
Mrs. Smith holds no punches and takes no prisoners. In fact, she’s an equal opportunity offender. Thank goodness she’s too ridiculous to take seriously. Leave your censor at home and have fun.
Mrs. Smith’s Broadway Cat-tacular runs through Sept. 20, The 47th Street Theater, 304 West 47 Street, 85 minutes www.FindCarlyle.com.