Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The Untamed Stage
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Treasure Island, Laura Osnes at Feinstein's, and The Boy from Oz, and Hamlet and Eddie's review of Enchanted April

Zelda Koznofski
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Berlin during the Weimar Republic in the 1920s was a bizarre place, with its innovations and its sexual excesses, and Scrumbly Koldewyn created a musical about it called The Untamed Stage. Imagine you are in a "Kabarett" watching the Thrillpeddlers production. This is one of the most erotic shows you will ever see. The sensual direction by Russell Blackwood is extremely incendiary and entertainingly shocking. You would not want to take your maiden aunt to this show unless she was very liberal minded.

When you first enter the Thrillpeddlers intimate theatre (44 seats only) you see a small stage and tables with cutout patrons in tails. First you see the evening's MC, Zelda Koznofski, who comes out to great you and then bursts into the rousing "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" ("Everyone's a sinner; We don't have a sense of guilt"). Afterward, and throughout the first act, 23 very talented people entertain you with vaudeville acts and some terrific singing.

Kim Larson in a white drag dress beautifully sings "No One Is Looking," while David Bicha with a monocle in his eye sings with his striking vocal cords "Herr and Frau Anstatt." Bicha sings that these are daring times and even warns of the impending disaster of the rise of the Nazis. There are vaudeville acts, including three gentlemen in raincoats, with nothing on underneath, performing the "Dance of the Exhibitionists." C.J. Smith, Diogo Zavadski, and David Bicha are hilarious in this skit. There is a long crude skit of a father and son "cleaning out" a life-size female sex doll. That one goes on too long and I leave the details to your imagination.

Guest star Cary Ozard sings with passion "Having Fun Tonight" and "I Can Tell You How to Tell." She has pitch perfect vocal cords when singing these songs. Diogo Zavadski rocks with "No-No-Nola." The first act ends with Noah Haydon poignantly singing "Waiting" with his beautiful voice.

The second act is called "The German Thing to Do—or How a Cow Changes History: A Kabarett Musical Fantasy." Scrumbly Koldewyn's melodies and lyrics have a certain Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht feel and I was reminded of their famous The Threepenny Opera or The Rise and Fall of Mahagonny. This is a musical takeoff on the threat of the Germans embracing Aryan dominance. There are German costumes of brown shirts and shorts that represent the Brown Shirts of the Nazi era in the early 1930s. The plan is that the German Brown Shirts, played here by David Bicha and Rachelle Urban, are to inject commendable German youth with Aryan semen to make perfect Aryan Germans. This is full of sexual perversion and your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance level. The plans are frustrated by a single cow, played uproariously by Bruna Palmeiro. What happens to this sweet cow is something you have to see. Noah Haydon comes into his own in this act singing entertainingly "Pan Sexual Dora's Box" backed by David Bicha and C J Smith.

Each member of the large cast has a chance to shine, especially at the end of the show with "We Are the World."

Glenn Krumbholz once again delivers amazing costumes that are quite colorful. James Blackwood's simple design of the kabarett looks like a scene out of the Marlene Dietrich film The Blue Angel. Bravo to Russell Blackwood for his direction of the bold and bawdy show that only San Francisco could produce. Also, bravo to Scrumbly Koldewyn's bold and brave score.

The Thrillpeddlers' The Untamed Stage runs through May 28, 2016, at The Hypnodrome, 575 10th Street at Bryant Street, San Francisco. To buy tickets phone 415-377-4202 or visit

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