“You’re not ready.”
That’s all I’ve been seeing on social media about Cabaret’s third mainstage production, Hand to God. And I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT. Who are they to tell me what I am and am not ready for??? I’m ready for anything!!! (Except for the Jonas Brothers getting back together. I was not ready for that. But otherwise I’m ready for ANYTHING.)
I got so defensive about this that I decided to go watch a run of the show just to prove to them all that I was, in fact, ready. No sneaking in. No disguises. When someone said, “Katie?” I stood up and proudly responded, “Yes. I am here. What is it?”
Then I realized they were talking to Katie Toledo and sat down again. But I sat down PROUDLY. I was READY.
“Be ready to have your jaw dropped.” -Kyle Higgins, Assistant Director
Before the run of the show started, I went around to inform everyone that I was, indeed, ready to watch this play. In the process, they gave me some unsolicited information about the production.
“It’s a play about how our conscious desire for goodness and love is constantly at odds with our most vicious, primal urges of lust and violence,” said John Lerman, director of this show that I am totally ready for.
“It’s also got puppets,” he added, “and they’re frickin hilarious.”
Okay, puppets. I can be ready for puppets. I spent the majority of a decade watching Sesame Street–I know what puppets are about. But is this just a fun show with some freaky puppets? I soon had my answer.
“While it may just seem like a fun show with some freaky puppets,” said Kyle Higgins, assistant director of this show that I’m ridiculously ready for, “there is a lot going on beneath the surface between a few of the characters, especially Jason and Margery, our show's mother and son duo. Their relationship is extremely complicated and I am excited for audiences to unpack all of that.”
I went to Chris Michael, who plays Timothy in the show that I’m super ready to watch, and asked him to tell me a little more about what this play is about.
“This show is about a Christian puppet ministry, and...can I start over? I didn’t like that.”
HMMM. Guess SOMEONE wasn’t ready. Not me. I’m always ready.
I told Chris I’d come back to him, and went to ask Katie Toledo (Jessica), who can’t wait for me to graduate so that she can become the One Katie to Rule Them All, what she likes about this show.
“I like how weird it is,” she said. “I think that it’s funny in ways you wouldn’t expect.” There she goes, telling me what I will and won’t expect. I read the description on the event page. I’M READY.
“I think the description does not make it sound funny at all,” Kaitlyn continued, “but the playwright found a lot of ways to bring out some dark humor in things that you wouldn’t think you’d find funny.”
“I think audiences will be shocked, appalled, tickled, and delighted - all in rapid succession.”
-John Lerman, Director
Soren Morici, who plays Jason and Jason’s puppet Tyrone in this show that there’s no chance I’m not ready for, told me about how thrilling it is to play these two characters. “You always have to be in constant awareness of not only how the puppet is moving and where he is looking,” he said, “but what my face and hands are doing during Tyrone’s, dialogue.”
Okay. Regular puppet stuff that I already knew and was ready for.
I returned to Chris, asking him what he enjoys about the show.
“I like the themes that it deals with,” he told me, “and the way it presents them. Themes like mental health, loss, and coming into your own.”
“And puppets?” I asked.
“And puppets, yeah.”
See? I know what this show’s about. I’m ready.
At this point, John Lerman announced that the run was about to start, mainly so Katie would “shut up about being ready.” Knowing that he was probably talking about Katie Toledo, I ignored this, and sat back in my seat, 110% ready to watch this show.
I wasn’t ready.
I WASN’T READY.
YOU GUYS. I. THE QUEEN ON BEING READY. Was not ready.
“I wasn’t ready.” -Katie Siegel, Hand to God audience member
Hand to God is a wild ride full of dark humor, sex, religion, and, yes, puppets. But what Soren and the other cast members who use puppets in the show do with these puppets make you forget that they’re puppets at all. And while the puppets, specifically Tyrone, are such an integral part of the show, there is so much more to it than that. The performances of the cast had me wringing my hands in one moment, and doubling over with laughter in the next.
It was incredible. I was not ready. Neither are you. Go see for yourself. The end, by Katie.
Hand to God will continue its run tonight, Friday, March 1 at 8PM, tomorrow, Saturday, March 2, at 8PM, and Sunday, March 3, at 7PM, at Cabaret Theatre.
Buy your tickets here: https://sabo.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=4785
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/852965025057997/
Photos courtesy of Steph Bradli and Katie Siegel