Arts & Leisure
The House of Von Macrame Fashions a Bloody Good Time
(Photo: Kate Hess)
With all the glam camp of Rocky Horror, the sinister undertones of Little Shop of Horrors and a dash of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Management’s The House of Von Macrame is the most fun I've had at the theater in a long time. This irreverent musical about a string of occult murders during Fashion Week is brimming with Hitchcockian humor.
Sweet Britt Greenpoint (Rochelle Smith) is a pretty Iowa native with a touch of ESP modeling in her first New York fashion show, when she is discovered by the powerful and mysterious designer Edsel von Macramé. She becomes his muse, earning the jealousy of longtime model Topaz (Felicia J. Hudson). Soon after, a serial killer begins taking out models, and it's up to Britt and hard-bitten fashion reporter Rosemary Crawley (Megan Hill) to find the culprit, even if that means spending a night in von Mac’s suspiciously secluded upstate mansion. Hilarious and irreverent, this musical lightly examines the power that beauty holds over us, and the price some pay for having it.
The book by Joshua Conkel and songs by Matt Marks are witty and biting, exploring what makes beauty so powerful you might kill, or seek to destroy, for it, but without losing the fun, silly vibe it starts off with. A brilliant example is the choice of creating a single role (a screwy Aimee Cucciaro ) for all of the killer’s model victims, who opens the show singing an ode to the redshirt, that stock character who always seems to die shortly after being introduced, in this case full of unrealized dreams of being the last girl standing. This clever burlesque adds appeal to the show that goes more than skin deep, a farce in sequined pumps.
Paul Pecorino as Edsel von Macramé is a hilarious fusion of electric dance moves and fierce makeup that could be envied by both Prince and Dr. Frank N. Furter, his rich baritone adding darkness to the role when the moment calls for it. Tara Bruno, as his associate Chavette, has perhaps the finest voice in the show, and effectively portrays the bitter ice queen trope that is such a fashion world staple. Smith proves a capable leading lady with a flair for the comedic. Standouts from the talented ensemble include James Wells and Vanessa Pareda as model besties Indigo and Jam Jam, a constant source of upbeat fun.
Last, and certainly not least, are Tristan Raines’ dazzlingly absurd costumes, without which a show about fashion would have little soul. From a tampon-fringed dress to a hat dangling a candy bar in front of its wearer, these creations alone might be reason enough to see the show. But between laughing at the constant stream of one liners and marveling at the perfectly executed rock harmonies and dance moves, it's hard to pick just one reason to go.
The House of Von Macrame runs Wednesday - Saturday through February 16 at 8pm at the Bushwick Starr. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at vonmac.brownpapertickets.com