Meow Meow at The Cabaret 

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As demanding and affectionate as a cat, sexy Australian performer Meow Meow makes you half-fear, half-wish she would come over and knead your lap. Whether she's passing out flowers for people to toss to improve the impressiveness of her entrance or recruiting people to hold her lyrics - or her legs - while she sings, no one gets to be passive in her audience.

"I have to do everything myself!" she muttered on Saturday night, and then pulled another man onstage to work the tiny fog machine she had brought along for "atmosphere."

I didn't realize until later how skillfully she was scaffolding the audience engagement, but by the end of the show, everyone was on their feet to help with the body surfing, or at least moving around the Cabaret's pillars to watch it happen.

"Gently! Gently!" Meow Meow reminded the audience as she leaned out onto the uplifted arms. "I'm not on TV, I'm real!"

"Real" is the perfect word for her. Yes, she wears glamorous outfits (when she's not singing in her slip) and, yes, she pretends a lot. It's theatre, after all. But she also has real skills as a comedian, as a dancer, as a songwriter, as a singer... and as a theatre shaman. More than once she referred to the stage as "the sacred space." Some might think she was making another joke when she said that but I don't.

Lance Horne adroitly accompanied her on the piano. I'm not ashamed to say that I wept as Meow Meow sang a song that she "had to" write, called "Hotel Amour." She said that she is in the process of recording a "lush version with harps and so on" with Thomas M. Lauderdale of Pink Martini. I'll look forward to that, but her version with Lance was completely satisfying.

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