By Shari Lifland (@shariontheaisle)
It’s not always easy being blonde—we’ve all heard the jokes. But like iconic blonde megastar Dolly Parton—who once quipped: “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes, because I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not blonde,” performers Savannah Brown and Chase O’Donnell know they’re not dumb, either. As evidenced by their delightful appearance at the Metropolitan Room on July 29 (their last in a series of shows at the venue over the past year), they’ve masterfully learned how to make blondeness work for them.
Performing as Too Blondes, Brown and Chase simultaneously spoofed and celebrated the blonde stereotype in an original show of song, dance, and banter that showcased their musical and comic talents. Written by Ms. O’Donnell and directed by Ms. Brown, the Too Blondes were ably backed up by musical director Sheridan Stevens on piano and Oliver Switzer on guitar and Cajon.
The theme of the show, we learned, was “Life in the 20’s.” Brown, resplendent in a shimmery turquoise flapper dress accessorized by a silvery headband, has done her homework (via Yahoo Answers), and she proudly shared a wealth of information about the Roaring ’20’s. There was just one teensy problem: the show’s title refers to life in one’s 20’s (both performers are 25), not the ’20’s. No matter. Like another set of pals, Patsy and Edina of “AbFab” fame, the Too Blondes support each other, no matter what. Even in the face of Brown’s most egregiously hysterical dumb blondisms (i.e., mistakenly believing they’re playing the Metropolitan Opera instead of the Metropolitan Room), O’Donnell had her back, and vice versa. The obvious affection and support between their two characters is endearing, cleverly upending the dumb blonde shtick and turning it into a feminist statement.
The show gave both women opportunities to shine, individually and together. Some highlights included a ’90’s/’20’s mash-up medley, where each blonde sang selections from “the classics.” For Ms. O’Donnell that meant the hip-hop song “I’m Blue,” a counterpoint to Ms. Brown’s more traditional “Blue Skies” —a clever way to acknowledge their youth while paying homage to the cabaret tradition they embrace. In her original composition “Turning 22,” Ms. O’Donnell described the frustrations of a young performer eager to make it in show business before it’s too late. She lamented, “21, I was fine. 22, past my prime. I’m running out of time to be famous. I should be famous.” Her blonde pal reassured her that everything will be OK: “When you don’t know what’s next, drink champagne!”
To bring the proceedings back to a lighter note, Ms. Brown’s ditzy character decided to write and perform a song on the spot. Grabbing Mr. Switzer’s guitar, she came up with a tune that sounded a lot like (actually, exactly like) Cindy Lauper’s hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” which while not original, could be the Too Blondes’ anthem. In the “Audition Bit,” the Blondes auditioned for the part of “white Diana Ross” for an all-white version of the Supremes. This number, along with another, “Dance Versatility,” provided a showcase for the pair’s dancing talents, from tap, to ballet, to Fosse-esque.
While the Blondes stepped offstage for a costume change, Sheridan Stevens kept things going with his original ballad “Leader of ISIS,” an offbeat tune that sounded like a Cole Porter classic with modern, twisted lyrics: “If I were the leader of ISIS, I’d proclaim I’m a prophet, then claim all the profit to buy nice things for you.” Stevens, along with Brown and O’Donnell, is an example of the wealth of young, gifted performers working in New York today. In addition to Stevens’ original song, four of the 15 musical numbers in the show were written by Ms. O’Donnell: “Mamma Misled Me,” “Turning 22,” “Going Dark,” and “Dating Song.”
What’s next for the Too Blondes? In an interview after their performance, the performers gave COTA an advance scoop: their next show is already in the works. Just in time for the presidential election, Too Blondes: Red, Blonde, and Blue will debut October 2 at the Triad Theatre. Chase O’Donnell told COTA: “Every week we post a new political sketch, so we’ve decided to do a political show. We’ll be running for president, the two of us.” While the Too Blondes wouldn’t divulge where their political sympathies lie, they did share that they’ll be running on the “Dependent” party ticket, because they’re “dependent on their parents for money.” And they say they got some terrific Tiffany Trump material while watching the Republican convention. So stay tuned.
For more information, visit www.tooblondes.com.