The Really Desperate Housewives of Stepford Parish
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 6 p.m. Sun.; through June 27
Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812; www.cabaretlechatnoir.com
Tickets $25 Fri.-Sat., $21 Sun. (all prices include $5 bar credit)
Friday's performance is sponsored by the krewe of Satyricon. Call 525-4498 for that show only
The term "mash-up" has only recently found its way into dictionaries, where it's typically defined as a type of music remix or Web application. But for a decade, New Orleans' Running With Scissors theater company has used local stages to pioneer the peculiar art of the pop-culture mash-up. Starting with Texas Chainsaw 90210, its first production in 2000, and continuing with such memorable works as The Titanic Adventures of the Love Boat Poseidon and now The Really Desperate Housewives of Stepford Parish, the troupe has repeatedly dropped all kinds of cultural ephemera into a blender just for the sheer pleasure of tasting the resulting concoctions.
"We just have sort of a broad mission to entertain," says Richard Read, a founding member of the company and its unofficial manager and show director. "I sometimes think of art — or whatever you want to call it — as sort of a broad spectrum. At one end of the spectrum you have high art, and at the other end entertainment. I can't speak for the rest of the company, but I veer toward the entertainment, and every so often throw in little glimpses of art — one sweet little touching moment, even if we throw it on the ground and step on it about five seconds later. But we probably wouldn't do anything that didn't have a lot of camp value, whether we did it as a mash-up or as more of a straight piece."
To that end, one consistent element characterizes the company's shows. "There's always a man in a dress," says Dorian Rush, another founding member. "Because a man in a dress is funny. And it's always going to upset your senses."
Read takes a practical view. "We don't really draw attention to the fact that they're men in dresses," he says. "It's not really a drag show, it's just the reality that exists on our stage. It's our own little world, but it's a welcoming little world."
A visit to an early rehearsal of The Really Desperate Housewives of Stepford Parish revealed a tight group joyously inventing the show as they ran through the book, constantly sharing ideas and making each other laugh. The original script of The Stepford Wives movie provided a foundation and mixed easily with hilarious elements from current reality television. "We're a family. Everybody loves and trusts each other," says Rush, who recently won a Big Easy Award for her work in Livin' Janis. "I tried a little bit of theater outside the group. But most people don't want your input."
So what's the funniest thing that ever happened at Running With Scissors? "It's nothing you can pinpoint," Rush says. "There have been moments in every single show where we've had to stop rehearsal because Richard Read has fallen on the floor on his stomach laughing, and we had to wait for him to stop. All of us get the giggles. It's part of the beauty of it. 'The funniest thing' happens all the time."