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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An Evening of Comic Songs from Le Petomane


Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble presents A Concert-ed Effort

Review by Rachel White

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Rachel White. All rights reserved.


Le Petomane members in A Concert-ed Effort.  Photo – Julie Dingman Evans.

Dressed in pastel polyester jumpsuits a la 1970, on a stage filled with multicolored instruments, Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble delivered a night of their old oddball hits spanning the length of the group’s career. There’s no acting here – it’s all music and charm – and none of the outfits are commented on or relate to anything that’s going on onstage. They simply provide a uniform and accentuate the quirky tongue-always-in-cheek pseudo-obliviousness of the players. 

With the exception of Five Things, I wasn’t very familiar with Le Petomane’s work, so I didn’t have a context for all of the music, which may have added to the experience. The songs did make me curious, however, to see these shows combined with the music, as the lyrics and ideas are compelling. The audience was obviously enthusiastic and familiar with the work and seemed to be applauding as much in support of the group as in remembering. 

It’s a fun evening, especially if you like song comedy. But more than that, it feels like a show created just for the fans. An outsider might not get as much out of it, but there is no doubt of the company’s skill – comically, vocally and musically. They know exactly what they’re doing, and they do it with a twinkle or, in the case of Gregory Maupin, with deadpan seriousness. 

The songs are drawn from many of the group’s shows dating back many years. There is a tribute song to Ned Beatty from Derby Carol; “Magic Baby Pool” from 5 Things; as well as songs from Ka-Blam and The Lesser Tragedy of Pamman, among others.   There is a duet with a monster played with perfect sincerity by Kyle Ware, growling in harmony with Abigail Maupin, much to the delight of the audience.

The music styles cover anything from emotional comic ballads to rock songs. There are electric guitars, some banjos, key boards, drums and whatever the players can make sounds with. The stage is filled with instruments, which is visually fun and differentiates this show from your typical concert. It was easy to see it more as a musical review. 

Scott Anthony and Brian Lilienthal were most able accompanists. The group does not typically use a large band behind them, and it was fun to see the players pick up instruments and begin to play as needed. It gave the piece a deceptively spontaneous feel, though the ensemble is obviously extremely tight.

A Concert-ed Effort

May 31 and June 1, 2013

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble
The Bardstown Theatre
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205

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