Titus really sells this stroll on the dark side. Underneath her coquetry is a hardness, a steeliness, that brings this entertainingly and eternally pragmatic character to life.
Review by Matt Palm, Orlando Sentinel
The Birth of Black Crow Cabaret
Black Crow Cabaret is the result of my obsession with cabaret, witches, and writing a one-woman show. The Orlando Fringe Theater Festival was taking submissions, and I applied. I got in at an offsite venue, and then there was no turning back!
What started as a “One Witch Cabaret” talent showcase, quickly became something much more dramatic. It became a storytelling piece about a woman from the 1640s who was wrongfully accused and hung for being a Witch. Black Crow Cabaret is her retelling of her own life story. A story that begins after her death – when the Devil wakes her to a new life as an immortal witch.
Writing the Show
While performing in Company at The Studio Theatre at Tiera del Sol, I spent my off-hours writing Black Crow Cabaret in a composition notebook. I would simply put on a timer, and write until the timer went off. I wrote and wrote until the story emerged.
Next, were lyrics. I’m a big stickler for a clean meter and true rhymes, and writing the songs was a joyful mix of creativity and puzzle-solving.
Subsequently, the following challenge was to weave those lyrics into melodies. Curtis Seligson and I collaborated on the music and melodies, and he then created the magical tracks and scoring.
Costuming the Show
Adding to my list of firsts, I decided that the show would include elements of burlesque! Each strip was a part of the storytelling and lead to a revealing conclusion at the end of the show.
I then procured, built, beaded, and rhinestoned for my life. All of the sequins and beading on the bodysuit were hand-stitched using elastic thread to allow for stretch and longevity. Next, I patterned and handmade my fabulous undies, and pasties, and bedazzled them to high heaven. Finally, I also rigged everything for easy removals – zippers, snaps, and elastic oh my!
The costume was the main design and aesthetic element in the show, and therefore I’ll be darned if it wasn’t going to be absolutely fabulous.
Rehearsing the Show
In the meantime, I rehearsed and self-directed the show in borrowed spaces in front of a mirror, and with the additional use of a camera to tape rehearsals.
In the show I play multiple characters, perform several songs, execute strips, and have some delightful hoop choreography. A lot of my time went into creating distinct physical, and vocal choices for each character, and in creating believable transitions in-between characters.
Performing at Fringe
The show went well! Was I terrified? Absolutely. Was it totally worth it? Absolutely. There is nothing like creating and presenting your own piece.
The audience laughed when they were supposed to, and gasped where called for. I sold out two of my five shows, received a wonderful review from Matt Palm, and even turned a profit! It was thrilling.
Monica Titus threw me with the title of her atmospheric Fringe show. “Black Crow Cabaret” is not a cabaret in the traditional sense. There is music, … and it is very good — especially the haunting opening number that determinedly pulls you under the performer’s spell.
But the emphasis is on the tale Titus weaves — that of a 300-year-old witch and her slinky slide through history. Titus is beguiling, opening the show in a darkly glittering outfit that covers just enough…
Titus’s speaking voice has a huskiness and a hypnotic rhythm, her eyes boast a sparkle; both pull the listener in.
– Review by Matt Palm, Orlando Sentinel
After those magical Fringe performances, I’ve since presented the show at both The Nook and The Venue, and have also performed material from the show for special events with the troupe Phantasmagoria, of which I am a member.
I legitimately can’t wait to now develop this show further, and look forward to seeing where this Witch takes me!