Full Frontal Doherty--Cabaret Laughter for Generation X
Kelly Doherty and Marcee Doherty-Elst have been performing as “The Doherty Sisters” for some time now in shows that have appeared at Next Act for Uprooted Theatre, the Skylight Bar and Bistro for Renaissance Theaterworks, the Brumder Mansion for Milwaukee Entertainment Group and more. I finally had a chance to catch the cabaret during its two-show engagement at the Villa Terrace this past weekend.
My wife had come to miss the jukebox musical style of cabaret show that used to be at the Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner when Hanreddy was Artistic Director. The Wonderettes. Lana Mae’s Honky Tonk Laundry. The Andrews Brothers. It seemed like just about every year there was a pleasantly campy series of classic songs brought together under the scripting of Roger Beane. It was a parade of mid-century pop hits woven into pleasantly cheesy plots. With Full Frontal Doherty and Everything Elst the Doherty Sisters bring that same kind of energy into something with more contemporary aesthetics that are no less campy.
The show plays like a traditional sister-act concert with a little bit of humorously feigned aggression and just a touch of comical darkness that somehow manages to maintain the overall mood of a Beane-like cabaret jukebox musical. The song choices are decidedly non-Boomer-centric. There are songs here by Eric Idle, Trey Parker & Matt Stone and even Garfunkel and Oates. This is campy cabaret for Generation X. Fun stuff. Ryan Cappleman accompanies the two on piano with flourish around the edges of the performance.
On a comic level, Doherty and Doherty-Elst have a really good sense of subtlety and comic timing. They’re playing themselves as comedy characters onstage. When this is done well, it can work like Jack Benny or Garry Shandling or Larry David or Amy Schumer. Like the best to have tackled the challenge before them, the Doherty sisters manage to play themselves in a comic balance. They manage a delicate finesse between being genuine onstage and playing their stage personas for the sake of comedy. At its best it’s great and at its worst it’s still quite good.
The Doherty Sisters' next gig will be a one-show appearance at Angelo’s Piano Bar on 1686 N. Van Buren St. The Feb. 12 show starts at 4:00 p.m. It’s a pre Valentine’s Day show which will include romantically-inspired material in a cozy, intimate environment.