Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret

Song and narration selection  re-spiced: a silk road cabaret

by Jamil Khourny

Directed by Steve Scott

Choreography by Brenda Didier

Music Direction by Ryan Brewster

Produced by Silk Road Rising

At Pierce Hall at the Historic Chicago Temple, Chicago

Musical pastiche tries to cover too much as it implodes over it’s own weight

After the success of their first cabaret production in 2009, Broadway Sings the Silk Road, Jamil Khoury has mounted a most ambitious world premiere cabaret show. Moving beyond show tunes, Re-Spiced is a 95 minute cabaret show that tries to cover too much.  With 35 songs ranging from Broadway to pop, country, rap, folk and rock  including Bollywood also including 11 prose excerpts and 6 poetic verses, this one-act show runs too long. It was like a dinner guest who  stays 30 minutes too long after being a welcome guest.  Too many topics, too many songs with too many prose and poetry spoils the show.

re-spiced: a silk road cabaret

The eight person cast ranged from adequate to weak voices and the stylish choreography (by Brenda Dider) seemed a tad under rehearsed. While I enjoyed some of the songs and parts of the poetry and prose, tunes like “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,”  among others didn’t seem to fit in. Adding a political,  anti-war agenda and a gay theme added to the lack of focus of the show. It played like Jamil Khoury had a check list of themes he just had to cover. The show would work better with a more limited focus.

re-spiced: a silk road cabaret

Stronger voices with a clearer focus which may have exuded more empathy and charm like the first Silk Road Cabaret show did would make this revue more stage worthy.  As it plays now, there is enough quality tunes to give an honest portrait of Asian and Middle Eastern psyche as part of the unique melting pot know as the USA. Once this revue is trimmed and refocused, it’ll be even more stinging as a playful, sexy and subversive musical pastiche. It is worth a look.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago,IL, call 312-857-1234, www.silkroadrising.org, tickets $30, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 4 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through April 28, 2012