SEATTLE REVIEW: MS. PAK-MAN – OUT OF ORDER! Is Campy 80s Nostalgia At Its Best

Published on March 21, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

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It’s not easy being a washed up 1980s video game star with a power pill addiction and a bevy of famous stars and former friends who refuse to return your calls or show up to your star-studded spectaculars, but if anyone can make it look glamorous it’s Ms. Pak-Man.  Ms. Pak-Man: Out of Order! is the fourth installment of this campy foray into 80s pop culture starring cabaret performer and frequent BenDeLaCreme collaborator, Scott Shoemaker (I wrote about his performance as Leo in Beware The Terror At Gaylord Manor at the ACT Theatre HERE).  The show also features Erin Stewart and Amalia Larson as ghosts Blinky and Sue, and a couple of brief cameos from my future ex-husband, Faggedy Randy (I drooled over him in both Gaylord Manor and Homo For The Holidays!) as a go-go dancing plumber who gets mistaken for Mario (of Super Mario Bros. fame) and as a Village People-esque leather cop in a black jockstrap during Ms. Pak-man’s tribute to the game that made you realize in horror that diarrhea could be deadly, Oregon Trail.

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The premise of the show is that Ms. Pak-Man is done with comeback specials – she came back, she is back, she’s here, and she’s ready to have a star-studded spectacular with all of the 80s luminaries she ran with back in the heyday of her career.  The proposed cast list features a variety of celebrities, both living and animated, including Morgan Fairchild, Dionne Warwick, Mario, and Q*bert!

One by one, Ms. Pak-Man announces her famous guests, and one by one they disappoint her by not showing up.  Unfazed, Ms. Pak-Man just pops a few “vitamins” from her new “clean living spiritual lifestyle” regimen and continues on with the show.  As the no-shows pile up and the pills disappear, uppers and downers combine into a blacklight dance frenzy of Space Invaders and Tetris blocks.  Almost every major video game from the 80s and 90s gets some sort of cheeky reference in this show, and I’m all the way here for it.

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This show is a delightful combination of geek and glam, and the performances are fantastic.  Every parody song is spot on; when Ms. Pak-Man returns after intermission, seemingly oblivious to the drug-fueled shenanigans of the last 60-plus minutes, she and the ghosts use a rewritten version of Celine Dion’s 90s power ballad “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” to remind the bulbous hostess of all of her crazed activities, including hijacking a school bus of screaming children.  As Blinky notes, “You can do a lot in 15 minutes.”

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The costumes for the show are simple, but wonderful.  The Ms. Pak-Man outfit does a great job of transforming Shoemaker into the spherical heroine and referencing the traditional look of the character without having to be too confined by a completely round character costume.   The colors are saturated and beautiful and the accessories, including a large pink bow and pink opera gloves are pitch perfect.  The ghosts have simple sequin dresses with pixelated eye details and a jagged hemline that evokes the original videogame look.  And Faggedy Randy’s white overall shorts for flame-throwing Mario is cute – and hugs him in all the right places.  Seriously, I’m going to climb that man like a jungle gym!

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The staging was also clever, simple, and very effective.  Stagehands dressed all in black would move pieces of the set around and occasionally handle props.  They blended in nicely and created some simple but fun effects, like the aliens from Space Invaders descending in their geometric block formations and glittery fireballs shooting out of faux-Mario’s crotch.  Yes, it’s just as campy and ridiculously entertaining as it sounds.

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Ms. Pak-Man: Out of Order! is a delicious and slightly dirty delight, and I hope that I’ll have the chance to see future installments when traveling to Seattle.  The show was housed at Re-Bar, a venue very close to my hotel, and the $25 ticket price was more than reasonable for a full cabaret show of drinking, dancing, and hilarious parody songs.  If you ever have the chance to check out one of these shows, or to see anything by the brassy and fun Scott Shoemaker, I highly recommend it.  Seattle has some fantastic cabaret entertainment, and this was among some of the best that I’ve seen.  It’s 80s nostalgia at its finest!

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