Go Deeper John Jarboe Gets Nostalgic with an Exploration of Mister Rogers

John Jarboe Gets Nostalgic with an Exploration of Mister Rogers

Posted June 19th, 2018

John Jarboe and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret will provide a highlight of the 2018 Fringe Festival with Do You Want A Cookie?, which uses live performance to trace the long history of cabaret, from Weimar Germany to 21st-century drag shows.

Before taking a bite from the poison cookie, don’t miss Jarboe performing as Mx. Rogers, an updated version of the friendly face you remember seeing on your childhood television set. You Can Never Go Down The Drain is a show that honors Rogers’s prolific songwriting career and presents the lessons in these songs—some that stuck with us and others we have long forgotten—in a new format for a grown-up audience. The show, which opens this Wednesday at the Wilma Theater, is a chance for adults to come to terms with their beliefs when confronted by life’s realities.

“Like so many of Bearded Ladies shows, You Can Never Go Down The Drain is a poison cookie of sorts,” says Jarboe, artistic director of the Bearded Ladies. “It uses that nostalgia and power of Mr. Rogers, sing-a-long, and enormous costumes to seduce the performers and the audience into some hard questions about being human.”


Jarboe and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret are a group of artists who rethink cabaret for the 21st century. Jarboe and his company host and co-curate the monthly series Get Pegged Cabaret, which features cutting-edge cabaret performances in FringeArts’ La Peg restaurant. They have performed around the country and abroad, fusing cabaret with theater, opera, and dance to breathe new life into the classic art form. Their work uses nostalgia and humor to explore gender expression and identity, and with outrageous costumes, sets, and songs, the Bearded Ladies are crushing the patriarchy one performance at a time.

“Mr. Rogers taught me that make believe can be low budget, that you don’t have to be good at voices to play other people, and that feelings are valid. He has shaped me more as an adult than a child. I think he was a true cabaret artist,” says Jarboe. If Mr. Rogers was a cabaret artist, the Bearded Ladies are undoubtedly the right folks to bring his stories to life.  

In today’s world, when the truth is questioned and it’s hard to know what to believe, who better than John Jarboe to teach us some of life’s most basic lessons, ones we might have forgotten in the whirlwind of adulthood.

The Wilma Theater will host ten performances of You Can Never Go Down The Drain from June 20 to July 1.

—Alyssa Kerper

What: You Can Never Go Down The Drain
When: June 20–July 1, 2018
Where: The Wilma Theater
Cost: $15–$40