Frank Olivier’s Twisted Cabaret – My Twisted Valentine (Hale’s Palladium)

Posted on February 10, 2014

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Frank Olivier's Twisted Cabaret.

Frank Olivier’s “Twisted Cabaret”.

Are you tired of the same old milquetoast, bland and inoffensive entertainment? Looking for something new, edgy and a bit avant-garde to take your significant other out for a Valentine’s Day show? If you have a pulse and answered yes, then fear not for Hale’s Palladium (located behind Hale’s Brewery in Ballard) has just the show for you. Be forewarned, while this show is edgy and maniacally twisted, it is considered by its press release to be ‘family friendly’ but not geared to children under the age of 8. The show is “Frank Olivier’s Twisted Cabaret – My Twisted Valentine” and it is a bizarre hysterical assortment of entertaining vignettes ranging from juggling, unicycle riding, sleight of hand magic, cross-dressing, stilt walking, improv and several other exotic skills, complete with a live band which adds up to loads of laughs and one very memorable night for all in attendance.

It was a bitterly cold evening when I arrived at the show. Those of us standing in line outside were huddled together for warmth, as the winds chilled you to the bone. We eagerly pressed forward the moment they opened the house, just so we could get inside and recover the feeling in our fingers and toes. After a bit of a mix up where they were not sure exactly where to put me, I was finally seated off to the right of the stage at one of the small tables which were crowded about the stage. Behind me were several rows of seats, resembling something you might find at a high school football game. My drink sat precariously perched in front of me and I could not be sure if it was the floor, the table or both which were not level, but something was definitely off.

Lara Paxton Photo by Niffer Calderwood

Lara Paxton Photo by Niffer Calderwood

While we awaited the start of the show, the three major performers circulated through the growing crowd to warm the crowd up. The beautiful aerialist Lara Paxton climbed up a drapery and hung suspended from a heart shaped perch overhead. I remember feeling vaguely envious of her as I recalled my high school science class how heat rises. No doubt, she was the warmest of us all. Frank Olivier circulated from table to table delighting the audience with up-close sleight of hand and card tricks. Frank’s loyal hunchback assistant, Flynch played by the talented Paul Nathan, messed with the audience, looking like the bastard lovechild of Riff Raff from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Uncle Fester of “The Addams Family”.

Flynch did an admirable job as the master of ceremonies kicking off the show, improvising where needed and entertaining the audience between vignettes. Frank Olivier is a gifted entertainer, extremely likable and when his act goes as planned he is excellent, but when the act goes awry he is even better. Frank and Paul are at their best when having fun and improv-ing off of each other and the audience. I imagine that while warming up the crowd, Frank must also have been weighing out which audience members would do well on stage. Each of the audience members called onto the stage to be part of the show were absolutely hysterical. From the first guy, which Frank tricked into wearing a tutu by having him step into a black tube and performed ballet with to the lady whom they managed to get her barefoot and then promptly took selfies of while holding her bare foot, had the audience roaring with laughter. Another hit of the evening was when Lara Paxton dressed up as a mermaid performed aerials on an anchor-shaped perch and held the audience mesmerized by her gracefulness and strength.

Frank Olivier Juggling Photo by Niffer Calderwood

Frank Olivier Juggling Photo by Niffer Calderwood

While the routines were diverse, edgy and fun, Frank shows himself to be the master entertainer proving time and again that he knows what makes the audience tick and playing it up for all it is worth. ‘Gifted’ falls short of describing the myriad of quirks and talents which make up the lovable, eclectic performer, but his talents are all firmly grounded in traditional vaudevillian performance of yesterday, only honed and refined to appeal to a new discriminating audience. It is mad, twisted fun and in this stressful world we live it, we can all use an evening of laughter or the Ish, as he describes it. If you have not laughed until you cry for awhile, you will definitely not want to miss this performance.

Frank Olivier’s Twisted Cabaret” runs from February 6 – 23, playing Thursdays through Sundays at Hale’s Palladium. If you have never been to Hale’s Palladium, it is an interesting place. Imagine a large barn-like structure birthed from a sick cross between Circus de Soleil and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but on the plus side, you can order all the beer and wine you desire to supplement your show experience. For more information about show times and to purchase tickets checkout the website http://twistedcabaret.com/. Though it is not for the faint of heart, anyone in desperate need of a good laugh (Broncos and 49er fans pay attention), it will definitely hit the spot.

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