AJ Silver is a cowboy from The Bronx, and his lasso act opening “Travesties of 2012,” a vaudeville cavalcade curated by Trav SD at the New York Music Theatre Festival brought out the grinning 3rd grader in me. Not a bad thing — it’s quite the pleasure to see a 14 foot hank of rope spinning like a tornado overhead when you’re sitting in a small black-box on the third floor of a Manhattan off-Broadway multi-stage venue. Yippi-ki-yo-ki-yay!
But “Travesties,” which runs tonight (Sat., July 21) and next Thurs. through Sat. at the 45th Street Theater as one of more than 100 shows produced by the NYMTF through July 29, features more than just lariats. There was an eerie contortionist, a scary-clown horror-story-teller, chanteuses ranging from the subversive to the glamorous, a tap dancer, a rhyming sketch the likes of which were common groaners about a hundred years ago, rousing songs by the assembled company and an aura of silliness that’s hard to beat. As Trav SD— aka Travis
Stewart, author of the definitive yet delightful history of American vaudeville No Applause, Just Throw Money, in a white suit, safari hat and greasepaint Groucho mustache — explains from the start, theater has plots, burlesque has ecdysiasts, vaudeville has it all.
The cast of “Travesties of 2012″ changes a bit, nightly. I was hoping to see the mentalist, but was amused by mock$tar Killy Dwyer (named among the ‘Top 10 Women Who Rock Comedy” by FunnyNotSlutty.com), chilled by Dandy Darkly, rather charmed by Meghan “Big Red” Murphy who probably does her material with a bit less wink-in-her-eyes in regular cabaret performances. Oh well, I will return next time Trav SD puts on a review, hoping to see a mentalist. That’s the thing about entertainment, you keep coming back for more.