“We have a gay old time…” sings Simo Heiskanen’s caricature character with a red boa around his neck. He descends the stairs to the back of the auditorium and walks to the stage across it. Next to him is Mari Kätkä, a whacky goth accordionist. Both are wearing top hats and lots of glitter eye make-up.
The cabaret is here! We are at night club LeBonk on Yrjönkatu. The performance takes place on a Saturday night during the intermission between 9 and 11 pm, that is, just before the party people take over the night club. At LeBonk, a brand-new Club theater has been opened on August 30th. It swears by a laid-back atmosphere and casual dressing. The intimate auditorium has a capacity for 150 spectators. During the performance night there were a little less than a hundred spectators present.
The milieu is just right, as typically, cabaret is performed in restaurants and night clubs, where the audience sits at tables enjoying drinks while watching. Cabaret is a form of entertainment which combines singing, dancing, comedy and theater.
The most famous cabaret theater is probably Moulin Rouge in Paris, and the night’s performance does feature old French songs, too. The performance also includes naughty jokes, revolt against conventionality and flirting – as a cabaret should. Here the extra seasoning is the open bisexuality of Heiskanen’s character. At times, the character plays with gender roles and transforms into a diva wearing a blue wig.
Heiskanen sings classic compositions which reflect the spiritual life of his character. We hear such charming, old-fashioned and silly songs as Friedrich Hollaender’s Reizend! as well as more modern material, like Prince’s Kiss. Heiskanen interprets the song in an individual and strong manner. The flamboyant Mari Kätkä is with it as a proficient musician and at times, even as a singer. The name of the cabaret, Nom de Plume, refers to the an artist’s pseudonym. Even the audience gets a chance to write their own noms de plume on pieces of paper with a quill.
On occasions, Heiskanen is on the move among the audience taking contact, but he will not embarrass anyone or make them join the show. In between the songs, Heiskanen makes the audience laugh with his witty remarks. The small-scale performance creates a good vibe and an energetic ambiance. The spectator can almost imagine being in a crepuscular bar in Berlin or Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.
The performance was produced by the Espoo-based dance theater Glims & Gloms. The cabaret is a part of the celebration of the theater’s 15th anniversary. Simo Heiskanen (born 1969) works as one of the two artistic directors of Glims & Gloms together with his spouse. Dancer and choreographer Heiskanen has been performing widely within the art of dance. The artistic design of the cabaret was created by him. Musician and music pedagogue Mari Kätkä (born 1973) has been working as a musician in countless different ensembles with different artists.
Nom de Plume premiered on February 6, 2014 at music theater Kapsäkki. The cabaret was performed twice at Club Theater, but it will be performed even at the end of November and the beginning of December at Kapsäkki.
Written by Elisa Helenius, September 9th, 2014