Adele Anderson, Dillie Keane, Liza Pulman
The trio that is Fascinating Aida are back in America once again, this time with a zany evening of song entitled Absolutely Miraculous, a compendium of new and old material which seeks to explore the perils of near-fame as well as themes of global decline (both environmentally and culturally).
With a loose cabaret structure, Dillie Keane, who founded the group in 1983, and Adele Anderson, who joined in 1984, dominate the proceedings, proving the more worldly wise of the three Aidas. Keane, whose diminutive, self-effacing physicality is a thrill to watch, and Anderson, husky-voiced as she flails her limbs about with abandon, easily outshine the fine-voiced Liza Pulman, the youngest member, who joined Aida several seasons ago.
Pulman, whose voice is easily the most pleasing, lacks some of the maniacal silliness of the more senior members, though she knocks her solo, I Watched Two People, out of the park in the evening’s second half.
Though the show is off to a rocky start with I Just Want To Be Famous, a creaky ode to older ladies longing for a glimpse of the spotlight, there are joys to be found throughout Fascinating Aida’s occasionally uneven evening of song. Pitted against one another are the group’s somewhat too-slavish desire to look to the future with material that references today’s headlines and the charm of their more off-the-cuff moments, including some of their older repertoire, in particular a song entitled Radiating Love, about love after nuclear fallout.
My Parents, a song about the difficulties of waiting to inherit one’s estate, is a delight. A parody of the overattentive attention to OSHA that has been paid by scout groups, entitled Health And Safety, is, by contrast, lyrically forced and mostly a dud.
Also hit-or-miss are a series of zany a capella choral parodies of Bulgarian folk music that cover a series of current (or nearly current) events topics including Paul McCartney, Oprah, Mayor Bloomberg, Susan Boyle, featuring brief sung phrases and vocal music flourishes that are simultaneously funny and tiring.
The evening is at its best when its individual members are allowed to shine. Liza’s I Watched Two People is one such highlight as well as Dillie’s lament to married man, Much More Married, and Anderson’s salute to singers with German accents, called simply Lieder.
As a group, they shine when their intricate attention to lyrical detail is at its most feverish, as with the show’s single best number, Walmart Saves (which began its life in the U.K. leg of their tour as Tesco Saves), a salute to corporate America’s near cultish following that provides some of the biggest, least forced laughter of the evening.