Theatre Review: Magdalene

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 21, 2008
The new show at the Sacramento Theater company resembles a cabaret lounge act. The house lights dim, and in strolls bandleader Marlene. She’s kind of a plump dumpling, wearing a wavy blonde wig, and almost as much makeup as the late Tammy Faye. But musically, Marlene’s related to Jerry Lee Lewis, the rockabilly pianist known as The Killer. (Music) Marlene starts talking about men, and bars, and you can tell she has a checkered past. Marlene also talks about Mary Magdalene, the woman who discovered that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Marlene maintains that Magdelene got a bad rap, that she wasn’t a prostitute, that instead she was a pillar of the early church. Which leads into humorous freestyle take on religion and history, blended with folksy tolerance, anchored by some snappy country gospel tunes. (music) This unconventional mix of ingredients isn’t going to click with everyone. But I found composer/performer Katie Ketchum’s idiosyncratic music and storytelling rather winning, in a meandering and sometimes counterintuitive way.