WEEKLY WHAT’S UP 10-3-14

. October 3, 2014.

You need some entertainment that’ll get right in your face! Look, you’ve been online all day, “liking” status updates and sending emails, it’s so cold and impersonal. 

“Personally,” says singer/performer Katie Corr, “I feel that people are ready for a Vaudeville revival.” 

You need something with lots of heart, lots of soul and lots of energy, something with quirky characters, charming musical numbers, and, above all, engagement. “When you come to our Vaudeville show,” says Corr, “you feel like you’re entering into secret part of history that may have been forgotten, but not lost.”

Vaudeville remains thanks to the passionate preservation of the talented troupe of performers making up The Lil’ Darlins, a versatile Lansing-based entertainment outfit who put on a fast paced comedic variety show spiced with fire-eaters, hula-hoop artists, magicians, music, jugglers and sword-swallowers.  

Attending a live performance of TheLil’ Darlins can evoke a special, inclusive feeling, says Corr, who founded the troupe with her husband, Benny, back in 2009. “I think people want to experience life and not just observe it.” 

When Corr reveals to people that she directs a Vaudeville show, they often don’t know what she’s even talking about. “Which I’m OK with,” she says, “because it gives me an opportunity to talk about a subject I absolutely love and, at the same time, give a brief history lesson to total strangers.”

Corr reminds us that Vaudeville was America’s most popular form of entertainment through the late 19th and early 20th century, right through the thick of America’s major “Melting Pot” days, before radio or “talkies” started their predominance of entertainment. 

Benny and Katy have known each other since childhood, becoming best friends in high school, with both being heavily involved in the theatre. They were consistently writing or working on some kind of project together. They both fell in love with an old book of Vaudeville sketches in their director’s office and finally realized how much of an affinity they both shared for the art form and the era. 

“I just loved the idea of putting on a production that has the sole goal of entertaining people.  Nothing more.  No lesson to be taught. Just an opportunity for people to forget about their lives and troubles for an hour or two and have a constant string of entertaining acts thrown in their faces one after the other.”

The cast of performers sing and dance to the music of a full band of musicians, called Heartland Klezmorim. The band and the performers collaborate impressively to arrange an eclectic and entertaining assemblage of parodies, sketches and comedic songs. 

What Corr enjoys most about The Lil Darlins show is that it starts with a blank canvas, upon which ANYTHING can be painted. 

Says Corr: “I can tell my cast anything: "Ok, Laura I want you to write lyrics to In the Hall of the Mountain King, but I want the lyrics to be about love gone awry" or "Oh, David I need you to compose the music for this and I'm going to have fire eaters performing 10 feet away from you during it while Laura sings dressed as a Viking warrior"…it gets done.  The show is constantly evolving and I come up against very little resistance from this amazing group of performers. “ 

The one thing The Lil Darlins hear more than anything else after a show: "There is nothing like this happening out there!”

There should be. 

The Lil’ Darlins Vaudeville perform this Saturday at The Blind Pig, 208 N. First St, Ann Arbor (blindpigmusic.com / 734-996-8555) 
Doors open at 9:30 pm ($10 / $13 for 18-21). For more information: https://www.lildarlinsvaudeville.com/

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