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June 6, 2016
Review: Cherchez La Femme
Photo courtesy of dis COMPANY
Photo courtesy of dis COMPANY

Cherchez La Femme is accurately described in its program as “a musical excuse”, which is fair because that’s exactly what it is. Kid Creole himself, August Darnell, in collaboration with Vivien Goldman, created the book for a musical that revolves entirely around his extensive catalogue. It is an excuse to use songs like “Stool Pigeon”, “No Fish Today” and of course the title song. The vibrant music has been accessorized with a thin plot that flirts between being a throwback to early Broadway musicals (the early ones which don’t get revived because they are too simple or incoherent) and just plain old fashioned. The plot centers around the popular singer Caufy Keeps (a charismatic Isaac Gay) a narcissist who throws away an impending world tour in order to go find the woman he loves, a collection of Latina clichés called Deliciosa (Skyler Volpe).

Packing his bags and bringing his assistant Doris (Traci Michelle) and brother Stingy (CB Murray) in tow, Caufy leaves for Haiti where he plans to find Deliciosa and declare his love for once and for all. Once there, he becomes involved in hijinx like paternity issues and sociopolitical drama. Perhaps more interesting, at least to this reviewer, was what happens to Caufy’s backup singers who go by the name of The Lemondrops (one wonders how much of the show comes from Kid Creole’s life, or if the fruit-named backup band is merely a coincidence). Left to their own devices in New York City, The Lemondrops attempt to create a career all their own, it’s like watching a micro-Dreamgirls within Cherchez La Femme. We see the three ladies, L.A. (Kristina Hanford), Lilikoi (Molly McCloskey) and Hilde (a pitch perfect Jenna Velichko) deal with the cost of being seen as obsolete, when they have become so associated with a male act.

One hopes the rest of the musical had shown an inkling of feminist awareness, since every other single female character is either: insane, obnoxious, or a nymphomaniac dying to get into Caufy’s pants. At one point even Doris, the female character who had been given the most agency, nags Caufy about his lack of sexual interest in her. Let’s not even get into how Stingy addresses women as “bitches” constantly, or how this presents a strange dramatic conundrum when we see women dancing along with him as he sings about the myriad reasons why women are terrible. The show’s sexual politics are squirm-inducing to say the least proving that this Kid Creole musical had a lot of maturation to do before it was ready for an adult stage.

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Written by: Jose Solis
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