Thursday, August 2, 2007

Review: Lyndsay and Prudence's Favorite Things at Cornelia St. Cafe

On Monday, July 30, Cornelia Street Cafe's basement was transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere as employees Lyndsay Becker and Prudence Heyert took the stage with a vaudeville variety show full of hilarious sketches and sweet spots.

The duo started with a slide show and listing of their "favorite things" which actually served to dissociate them from the rest of the show. Thinking these were sweet girls into chocolate chip cookies and all the other niceties of the world, the audience was disarmed for what was to come, including a fierce game-show sketch with a no-holds-barred cat-fight between the "contestants," an interview with an actual Inuit (eskimo) featuring his gift of freshly-caught fish, and an hilarious sketch that transformed the Cornelia basement into a surprisingly realistic jumbo jet on its way to crashing, with Lyndsay and Prudence as the unlucky flight attendants. Inventive and imaginative, never going with the easy punch line, Lyndsay and Prudence kept the audience and this reviewer roaring with side-splitting laughter.

Between such funny sketches, special guests added real magic to the show, especially the fresh stand-up routing of Janine McGrath, the haunting vocals of ukelele player Nila K. Leigh, and the intense vibe-playing by jazzman Dan McCarthy.

No wonder Cornelia St. Cafe's basement always seems to offer the best in jazz and literary performances. With so many talented would-be performers on the payroll, the place exudes not just the good taste of the entertainment bookers, but the support, enthusiasm and critical approval of both the front- and back-of-house staff. It's the way you always dream a performance venue should be: a place where the people who work there enjoy the shows as much as (if not more than) the paying audience.

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