Dallas — Why do we love Halloween so much? Is it the spooky music? The outlandish costumes? The parties that unleash all things wild? Or maybe it’s the combination of all these things and how they remind us of the joy of escaping. Thanks to The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG), audiences in the basement of Theatre Three discovered all these elements and more.
Under the direction of Danielle Georgiou, The Bippy Bobby Boo Show combined characteristics of 60’s variety shows like comedy, skits, and song and dance numbers with underlying motifs based in the current era. In the intimate space of the Theatre Too! basement, audience members entered into a sparkle-covered stage juxtaposed with creepy Halloween embellishments. Cleverly using Theatre Three’s own history as the basis for Georgiou and Justin Locklear’s original script, the hour-long production gave the ghosts haunting the theater the chance to put on a show of their own — inspired by 50+ years of watching a myriad of plays…night after night. Hosted by the charmingly cheesy Bibby Bobby (portrayed by Locklear), the evening opened with a ghost-summoning ritual — requiring audience members to “Booooooo!” at all the best jokes (or at least when the orange “Boo!” sign lit up) — immediately establishing a participatory experience. Performers in glittering metallic costumes shuffled, spun, and kicked from the back of the stage until they burst into the faces of audience members with smiles that spanned from ear to ear and dark circles under their ghoulish eyes. Feeding them zippy tunes with snappy beats was a live musical trio—complete with all the cringe-worthy sound effects of your favorite variety shows.
Hilarity gushed over the space just as fast as the show moved — shifting from a synchronized, flashy jazz dance number into a sketch titled “A Park Bench Sitting on Two People” (in a subtle ode to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot), and somehow ending with a bloody reprise of “Jingle Bells.” The glitzy set, soulful sounds, and unending puns flowed so smoothly together that it was almost easy to miss the complex themes lurking between the lines of the script, lyrics, and movements.
Disguised under the veil of a good-clean-fun 60’s era spectacle, topics of race, gender, identity, and relationship emerged through sly inuendo or understated dialogue — hiding controversial ideas in plain sight. Bippy Bobby’s off-hand joke about vampires sucking blood from their victims “with consent of course!” felt completely at home amongst the lively music and plastered smiles — giving viewers the sense that perhaps the issues of 2019 are not so far displaced from the concerns of 1960s society.
Omar Padilla’s “Cruise Ship Comedian” character Benito Camelo gave his stand-up in Spanish — creating an intentional divide between those who could understand and those who could not. In fact, he made a game out of this: asking those who followed his jokes to dance with him on his count while the rest of the audience sat and laughed in confusion. Through a sort of social experiment, the skit addressed questions of privilege, ethnicity, and social norms in the midst of a production about ghosts. These crafty parallels displayed Georgiou and Locklear’s mastery of making the uncomfortable, the difficult, the unfamiliar accessible to audiences.
Throughout the entire show, the characters explored both lighthearted and problematic concepts side-by-side. Turning lines from “Baby, it’s Cold Outside,” into a scary duet led by the brilliant Monet Lerner not only left viewers giggling from the sorceress’ stalkerish steps and creepy petting but gave the holiday classic a #MeToo-era update. However poignant these reminders are, DGDG always combated the heaviness that accompanies such subjects with the ridiculous absurdities for which they are known: including the climactic cat-possession spell that featured animalistic crawls, pawing hands, and quirky butt shakes.
While the production may have been inspired by the supernatural, spooky traits of Halloween, it certainly surpassed the label of a holiday show. The relevant themes, indisputable talent of the performers, and relentless enthusiasm made The Bippy Bobby Boo Show a comical masterpiece.