Pamela Shaw’s show, Naughty with a Band, comes ahead of some glowing press clips touting her successes with the project at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, various other unnamed festivals in Europe, and significant runs in Australia. Written by Ms. Shaw, along with Addie Johnson Talbot and Ron Orbach, Naughty with a Band takes the form of a performance memoir detailing her rise from poor little rich girl in Manhattan to successes in film and television. And true to its title, the show does indeed come with some significant raunch.
The star occupies the stage as if in her very own private workout. After the audience was permitted to enter the auditorium at Greenway Court Theatre a minute or two before the scheduled start time of 7:30pm, Ms. Shaw, dressed in a top and leggings, ignored the audience and spent a good ten minutes going through a bending and stretching routine, some yoga, and a bit of vocalizing before donning her layered performance costume assembled from items that had been hanging on a hat rack. The theatre had been reconfigured into a thrust stage with audience on three sides. The excellent three-piece band, consisting of Randy Landas on bass, Land Richards on drums, and the truly marvelous music director, Bill Schneider, on piano and synthesizer, eventually shuffled on as Pamela stepped into sparkly high heels, and the show was off and running.
With song and dance, Ms. Shaw detailed the frustrations she endured as a child who yearned to study ballet and acting, but was blocked by her languid, chain-smoking mother who considered that such activities were beneath her. Her father weighed in with distant distain. In her frustrating adolescence, she gained weight and assuaged her unhappiness with plenty of sex, which the star demonstrates with copious bumping and grinding, some of the naughty of the title. To demonstrate the extent of her fatness, Ms. Shaw made waddling motions around the stage that were frankly disturbing. More of the naughty, I guess.
The performance had sound problems, the least of which was Ms. Shaw’s tiny cheek mic, which kept coming untaped, prompting stagehands to come up and fix the problem over and over again until it became a thing. The real problem, however, was the sound balance. The band sometimes overwhelmed the singing, such that one had a hard time hearing the lyrics.
The story had more naughty to go with songs about boozy bar pick-ups, a leering Hollywood big shot who ogled her as she followed his order to turn around slo-o-owly, and sad, poignant yearnings for real love. A bright spot showed up at the end when she revealed a rapprochement with her mother, who became her greatest fan.
The lights went out. The star left the stage. The show seemed over. But the auditorium lights did not come on. Ms. Shaw came out for another round of applause sang, another song, and praised practically everyone who worked on the show. She very graciously applauded the band, and, for a last bit of naughty, climbed on the piano with her tight, legging wrapped behind showing with devil-may-care insouciance as she acknowledged the drummer. And the worshipful audience stood and applauded with enthusiasm. Twice.
Naughty with a Band is directed by Daniel Talbott, produced by Barbara Ligeti, and written by Pamela Shaw, Addie Johnson Talbott, Ron Orbach. Zakk Allan serves as associate director and choreographer; Rene Parras is technical director; Zach Thornton does sound; and lighting is by Azra King-Abadi.
Naughty with a Band closed after its two performances. Does it have legs? ¡Quién sabe!