Hello Darkness My Ol' Chum: REV's Graveyard Cabaret
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Hello Darkness My Ol’ Chum: REV’s Graveyard Cabaret

Posted September 11th, 2018

Since 2012, REV Theatre Company has brought Fringe Festival audiences into the iconic Laurel Hill Cemetery for a macabre cabaret of music and theater. As Philly Voice put it, Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum has become “a consistent favorite and top ticket seller… head to the cemetery for free cocktails and cabaret that spooks and stirs the soul.” The 2018 Fringe show opens this Friday and has four performances through September 22.

REV’s artistic codirector Rudy Caporaso spoke to FringeArts about this years happening.

FringeArts: Describe Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum for the uninitiated?

Rudy Caporaso: First of all, the show is listed in the Fringe Guide as a happening because that’s exactly what it is. Audiences will enjoy free cocktails as three “departed souls” appear out of the darkness of historic, iconic, beautiful Laurel Hill Cemetery, to music ranging from Bessie Smith to the Scissor Sisters and Cole Porter to Sonny and Cher. The music is a “Whitmans Sampler” of death-centric songs, all sung by—according to a critic—”performers with killer pipes”. And another critic said they’ve never experienced a more life-affirming theatrical event. An adventurous audience seeking a truly unique and immersive theater experience will like this.

FringeArts: What makes Laurel Hill Cemetery so suitable for this piece?

Rudy Caporaso: The piece was specifically made with Laurel Hill in mind—and I hope this doesn’t seem too terribly self-aggrandizing, but Laurel Hill is tailor-made for this production. It has the prerequisite mysterious and splendid Gothic grandeur. I always think of the Cemetery as the fourth character in the piece.

FringeArts: What changes from year to year?

Rudy Caporaso: We bring the show back to the Fringe each year since 2012 by popular demand. We were given five stars and voted Best of the Philly Fringe from DC Metro Theater Arts. And so we have audiences who return year after year, many of whom come back hoping to hear/looking for certain songs. But we do change things up every year, replacing some songs with other new songs. I’m consistently in the piece, but we’ve had a variety of other performers singing in the Cabaret which obviously changes the essential performance overall. And the good news is that our cocktail menu changes from year to year.     

FringeArts: What makes this an ideal Fringe show?

Rudy Caporaso: The Fringe is known for its tradition of bringing bold and audacious events to its audiences and REV’s Graveyard Cabaret gives people a theater experience that they can’t get anywhere else in the Fringe. It’s a fun, provocative, “spine-tingling and dead-on sexy” (according to Phindie) evening in the theater (cemetery, that is). And who doesn’t like free booze?

FringeArts: What do you like about the Festival?

Rudy Caporaso: The Festival has been generously supportive and fantastically cooperative with Festival coordinator Jarrod Markman forefronted in that.  We also make avail of other artists’ interesting, thought-provoking work.

FringeArts: What else are you looking to this Fringe?

Rudy Caporaso: We saw Trajal Harell’s piece in 2014 and we are looking forward to Caen Amour, specifically. We always try to see as much Fringe as we possibly can, but just as we know it is for other Fringe participants, finding non-rehearsal, non-performance times of our own is difficult.

FringeArts: Thanks Rudy!

What: Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum
When: September 14-22, 2018
Where: Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue, East Falls
Cost: $30
Created by REV Theatre Company
fringearts.com/event/death-cabaret-ol-chum

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