Leanne Borghesi: BDSM (Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me)

| August 10, 2016

Leanne Borghesi

BDSM (Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me)

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, August 6, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Leanne BorghesiLeanne Borghesi continues to raise the bar of musical comedy, a bar she set with last year’s show, Lush. BDSM (Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me), once again directed by Nicolas Minas, may be her strongest, most cohesive show to date. She does it all in this story of a ’50s perfect mom transforming herself into a sensual vixen and realizing true self-awareness and freedom. It’s all performed with wit, charm and incredible skill.

Starting out as June, the stereotypical ‘50s housewife and mom eagerly tries to satisfy hubby Ward (a not so subtle comparison to June and Ward Cleaver from TV’s Leave It to Beaver fame). She sings the lovely Rodgers and Hammerstein Oscar-winning “It Might As Well Be Spring” from 1945’s State Fair. Borghesi recreates the Jeanne Crain window scene, longingly searching through a prop window and flower box to sing another song of longing and desire, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” written by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston for the Walt Disney film Cinderella (1950). The medley is nostalgic, kind of corny and a sweet antithesis for what’s to come.

A hand puppet crow makes it appearance—June’s devilish alter ego perhaps—spurring her primal desires and egging on her transformation. Tom Lehrer’s “Smut” and June’s new reading material Dominatrix Housewife on Fire start the evolution. “Doin’ It the Hard Way (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) and a bawdy blues cover of “I Can Cook Too” (Leonard Bernstein/Adolph Green/Betty Comden) all illustrate the first stirrings of feminism. Borghesi delivers a faux cooking demonstration with a piece of rump roast that takes sexual innuendo to the limit.

Off comes June’s pastel blue housedress in favor of a sexy black corset and girdle. She’s off and running now, finding her inner kink. “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” (Rodgers and Hammerstein, from Carousel), takes on a whole new meaning in this context. Combined with the crow puppet’s filthy version of Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails hit “Closer” (“I wanna fuck you like an animal”), Borghesi makes comic gold out of transposing or nailing the chosen material to fit the delightful script.

June makes it to a bacchanal feast of decadence and realizes her potential and power. “I Am Woman” (Helen Reddy/Ray Burton) takes on a whole new significance. In a great audience participation bit, Borghesi brings up six pussy cat volunteers to help her sing the lewd “Pussy Cat Song” (J. Gilday/Connie Vannett/Harley T. Skidmore, Jr.). Poor little cats get sore, wet, hot, tight and bald. You get the point. June is shocked to find Ward at the kink ball and sings “Fantasies Come True” (Robert Lopez/Jeff Marx) from Avenue Q, a song that professes mutual love. Her sexual integration is complete and the fairytale is concluded.

Throughout the evening, Borghesi skillfully maneuvered through singing, acting, props, puppets and tear-away clothing. Her voice was in great command—clear and bright. Concluding with the lovely ballad “How Did We Come to This” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, a sexy rendition of Kander and Ebb’s “Everybody’s Girl” (Steel Pier) and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (Gypsy) were pure icing on the delicious cake that is Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, San Francisco, San Francisco Cabaret Reviews

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