This might seem weird, but I just Googled my name and that of Philadelphia’s “Martha Graham Cracker” together, and found a wellspring of fun and fond regard between us, in conversation, for the very real art of cabaret, for drag, for Prince, and so much more. Even in his real-life guise as Dito van Reigersberg, there are more words written by me than named and numbered in the Farmers’ Almanac.
Without stealing from myself completely, it looks as if I have claimed MGC/van Reigersberg – whether singing soul’s classics, opening wide operatically (with literal diva Stephanie Blythe) or acting in accordance with his role as Pig Iron Theater co-founder – as a roof-raising radical of performance art’s highest order.
With that, Martha Graham Cracker owns December. I don’t know what van Reigersberg is up to, but Martha is in full holiday swing.
First, there is December 12’s release party concert for the MGC album, “Lashed But Not Leashed,” at the Perelman Theater. Executive produced by the Kimmel Center itself (how does that work?), the new album surely throbs with the usual blood, sweat, and funk of the Graham band’s covers selection – to say nothing of Martha’s steamy, powerhouse vocalizing – but, this time, its songs are original, penned by van Reigersberg with Philly friends David Sweeny, Vince Federici and Eliza Hardy Jones.
Later this month, there is the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret at FringeArts, December 19–20, with its hairy frontwoman telling tall sexy tales, singing tall sexy songs, and welcoming a handful of special guests at include (on December 19) a “Choral Extravaganza” featuring Alex Bechtel, Jessica Johnson, Rachel Camp, and Jamie Branagh. Then, on December 20, another wealth of guests such as the Glitter & Garbage Cabaret’s Shannon Turner, members of the Paul Green Rock Academy, Ernest Stuart, and as The Martha Graham Cracker Youth Players featuring Aria Fiorillo (Harp), Zubin Fiorillo (Cello), and Amelia Nelson (Piano).
That’s almost too much Martha. And yet, not quite enough.