Drinking has to be one of the most inviting and accessible of subjects. And just in case anyone needed extra incentives, Bob Edes Jr. and Elizabeth Pearce's show New Orleans Down the Hatch: A Cabaret in Two Cocktails included two small drinks.
Ably accompanied by Jim Walpole on piano, Edes served as master of ceremonies, master of double entendre and Rat Packish bon vivant. He opened the show by twisting "When You're Smiling" into "When You're Drinking," and it set the tone for a gleeful celebration of all things alcoholic. Elizabeth Pearce, a food writer, educator and researcher at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, mostly served as the straight person, providing recipes and distilling New Orleans' history from two cocktails: the Sazerac and the hurricane.
Edes was effortlessly entertaining whether singing, sipping, quipping, refreshing old jokes or guiding the show through the occasional hiccup. Pearce has a good voice and sang too little. Though the material about the revolution in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), rum, sugar, bitters, Prohibition and speakeasies is ripe for a wry version of local history, her delivery was at times more tour guide than raconteur. The show was put together on short notice, and there's no reason it couldn't be retooled for a another round.
Le Chat Noir has become a second home for Running With Scissors regulars to do cabaret. Lisa Picone recently sang Peggy Lee songs. Dorian Rush won a 2010 Big Easy Award for her tribute to Janis Joplin. Bob Edes Jr. is no stranger at Le Chat. And Pearce has been a behind-the-scenes figure for Scissors as well as a rare stage presence. It's good to see more local talents delving into cabaret and making use of Le Chat's intimate space. — Will Coviello