Hark thee! If thou thinkest disco died in the 1970s, thou must thinkth again and practice thy hustle. Huh?
ion theatre’s disco party cabaret “Ass or A Midsummer Night’s Fever” is loosely inspired by the Bard’s hilarious comic fantasy, and infused with all things 70s, such as Star Wars and wild times at Studio 54.
Loose is the key word here. As the disco ball spins and drinks flow, a sexed up cast recreates the tale of star-crossed lovers in a disco night club. There is simulated debauchery and the spell that makes Bottom have the head of an ass. And most notable, the audience is encouraged, nay, bewitched into disco dancing on the dance floor. This could be the campiest, most interactive show ever.
The bedazzling begins before you get inside the cabaret. Rhianna Basore as Queen Titsonya and Justin Lang as Obi-Ron greet guests on the sidewalk. Radiant and royal in costumes of golden Spandex, they yammer about and stroll. They add “th” sounds to their verbs and welcome lovers and sinners and lay down the code of the wood.
Obi-Ron carries a long light saber and serves as the Master of Ceremonies. Turning expectations upside down, he encourages viewers to snap photos throughout the program and makes fun of Burning Man rejects.
You can’t miss Evan Kendig who plays DJ Phuck Finn. He’s the one racing around on roller skates and flashing his muscled physique and tight gold micro shorts.
In their ion debuts, dancers Anne Gehman and Brittany Taylor are knockouts as Sheila and Shirley, crazed 54 clubbers with boundless energy and a vast collection of wigs. Gehman’s wacked out character is like really awesome. Everyone calls her a crasher, but she doesn’t quit. She flails her hands to pleasure herself and shakes her booty even when they reject her. It’s a thrill to watch her put it all out there and take risks.
Both women partner well with the men. Their technique is revealed in intentionally cheesy spinning lifts with legs outstretched ala Dancing with the Stars. Their sparring dance, set to “Kung Fu Fighting,” is nostalgic fun.
Shaun Tauzon as Lizard Sanders and Marco Puente as DJ Meter are a riot times two and oh they can boogie down in polyester with fast feet and exciting lifts.
You won’t forget the dance with an introduction about spreading seeds, but you can try. Five dancers put on latex gloves, and the snap on the wrist is spot on with the piano score.
Max Macke plays Bottom with remarkable comic timing. Each time the group discovers a strange object hiding between his –well, the show is called ass – he stretches a toothy mischievous grin that will make you laugh and love him all the more.
Macke’s interactions with Queen Titsonya are so funny there should be a warning for viewers not to sip wine while watching. “Come sit thee down shot gun style, my disco bunny…” You get the picture.
The disco ball and brilliant strobe lighting is by Karin Filijan. The motley crew is sleazy glamorous in eye-popping costumes by Mary Summerday. And all of those sparkles and buns of steel are propelled by the sizzling choreography of Michael Mizerany, a frequent ion collaborator. Fosse hands, floor patterns, groups, duets, solos, there is a bounty of booty to see.
The show was created by ion co-founders Glenn Paris and Claudio Raygoza. It is similar to other disco-theater, such as the show “Here Lies Love” that spoofs Imelda Marcos, and more so, “The Donkey Show: A Midsummer Night’s Disco,” that also plops viewers in a lounge setting surrounded by disco classics.
Ion theatre calls this “Ass” an “hour-long dance party,” and that is true. If you go, be prepared to do the hustle, which is also known as the bus stop. You’ll be drafted to dance “to coax out the Queen,” and the cast gives a group dance lesson. There’s a dance competition and door prizes, plus food and beverages available for purchase. So dig up some bad 70s poly-prints, grab your cousins and go. Disco is good for the soul, me thinkth.
Shake Your Groove Thing
Magic To Do
Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
I Will Survive
It’s Raining Men
I Feel Love
We are Family
The production opens Aug. 8; performances will be at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, and 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturdays, through Aug. 24. Details about late night runs will be announced.
Ion’s URBN CNTR 4THE ARTS, 3708 Sixth Ave. And the box office: (619) 600-5020 or iontheatre.com.