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Monday Cabaret

 

Dino  Dela RosaBy Dino  Dela Rosa 

Musical acts and spoken word seem to be distant cousins but not to Regie Cabico and    Don Michael 'Don Mike' Hodreal Mendoza, established Filipino-American thespians, who came up with the idea of combining both worlds into their weekly cabaret act "LA-TI-DO Cabaret."

Don Mike and Regie both co-host the show. With Regie regaling the audience with jokes and his ebullient wit and Don Mike closing the show with a showtune. They also invite guest performers each week.

They both did this e-interview the day after the show. La-Ti-Do Cabaret is every Monday from 8-10 p.m. at the Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave. Washington D.C.). Closest Metro stop is Dupont.

 

Q: Your show received an enthusiastic response from the audience last night, is it a lot of work to put up this kind of show?

A: Absolutely, because the demands are constant. It is more a labor of love because it is not about the money. Regie and I do this because we want to provide the artistic community an outlet that is supportive, low-pressure and most importantly fun. Most series are usually one or the other kind of art form, and at La-Ti-Do we provide both! After over 6 months of running this series, I've learned that Tuesday is my "day off," but everything leading up to Monday after that is scheduled from contacting the upcoming participants to posting notices on our Facebook page.

Q: You gave a showstopping rendition of "Gimme, Gimme" (from "Thoroughly Modern Millie"). Will you be belting out more showtunes in future shows?

A: Yes! For me personally, La-Ti-Do has become my weekly saving grace from my everyday routine and is an escape from the issues that cause me stress. It is also my outlet to try out new material and experiment with older pieces from my book. "Gimme Gimme" is one of my favorites because it lets me prove that men can belt out show stoppers too! Cabaret is all about parts you wouldn't normally play in a full production and more about the meaning behind the song you're singing, so it gives me a chance to experience the subtext of songs and characters that aren't usually accessible as an Asian American actor.

Q: Last year, you were in the well-received productions of "Kiss Me Kate" and "Take Me Out." Will we be seeing you in any productions this fall?

A: Recently, "Kiss Me, Kate" actually received a Ruby Griffith Award for Outstanding Musical and one of our actors from "Take Me Out" received a Washington Area Theatre Community Honors Award for his work, so I was proud that I was part of these two productions. As for me, I am taking a short break from full productions to focus on making La-Ti-Do a success. It is my baby and I want to see it grow to its full potential before I can focus on anything else in my artistic life. However, I will be the feature performer on Monday, September 10th at 8pm, so if you'd like to see me in my own feature segment please be sure not to miss out on that night!

La-Ti-Do started on January 23, 2012 and was presented to a full-house of Don Michael and Regie's friends and artistic colleagues at the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle. Since then, it has blossomed into Washington, DC's first and only weekly spoken word and musical theatre cabaret series and a permanent addition to the DC artistic community with the help of key people such as venue co-owner Russwin Francisco and resident accompanist Jonathan Tuzman.

Some guest musical performers of noteworthy mention have been Helen Hayes Award nominees and winners Vishal Vaidya, Katie McManus, Chris Sizemore, Will Gartshore, Joshua Morgan, and some world renown poets/spoken word artists have been Gail Danley, Sonya Renee Taylor, Fanny Sophia Walker, Chris August, and Vijai Nathan.

We have an upcoming La-Ti-Do celebration on Saturday, September 15th from 9:30pm to 11:30pm to celebrate 9 months of the series and to raise money for the betterment of the show, i.e. to bring more talent in from outside of the region and to improve the quality of our outreach and press materials such as creating a website. For more information on La-Ti-Do, please refer to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/LaTiDoDC, our Twitter handle at @LaTiDoDC, or our email address at LaTiDoDC@gmail.com

 Q.- Were you and Regie influenced by Sylvia Plath?

- Can you explain more about the spoken word since some readers may not familiar with it?

Regie explains: Spoken word is an umbrella term that includes stand up comedy, storytelling and poetry. The emphasis at La Ti Do is on slam poetry. The art of competitive performance poetry where a poet has 3 minutes to read her or his poem in front of judges randomly selected from the audience. The poet does not have costumes, music, or props.

Slam poetry is a unique American art form and when combined with cabaret performance, the art of storytelling is heightened. We feel that these two art forms resonate and give a richness and new audience to both art forms of spoken word art culture and cabaret performance.

Last night, Adele Hampton demonstrated slam poetry. Reverend Nuge was a traditional storyteller and Gowri K.'s work mixed both traditional poetry and slam poetry. Regie Cabico's Russel Stover Dates and a 1 Night Stand  chocolate piece was a piece of performance art. Slam poetry is art for social change and pushes American Literature towards theater. It is almost a poem as 3 minute play. Slam poetry and Sylvia Plath may share a "confessional" style, but the birth of Slam Poetry came in the late 80s as a cultural evolution from rock and roll, stand up comedy and performance art.

 

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