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Review Thu May 19 2011
The Blue Ribbon Glee Club, an a capella group that performs covers of classic punk rock songs, opened Tuesday's Mortified show at Fizz with what I eventually realized was "Where Eagles Dare" by The Misfits. It took me a verse or two to figure it out, but when I heard the lyrics "I ain't no goddamn son of a bitch, you better think about it baby," being sung in sweet, four part harmony, I knew my instincts were right.
The Mortified reading series, in which willing participants read ephemera from their youth, teamed up with BRGC for a benefit show, raising $1,070 for Bright Pink, an organization that provides education and support to young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
If there's anything more incongruous than an a capella singing group using curse words, it's a fully grown woman reading a diary entry that she wrote at age nine that includes the phrase "don't pull my dick, bitch". I can't think of a more apt pairing than BRGC to set into words and music the angsty and awkward real-life moments that were shared onstage by brave women who, in their own words, read about struggles with weight loss, aspirations of becoming the next Christian rock pop star, being boy crazy, and being sent to bed without any dinner, to name a few.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Bridgid Titley's excerpts from her nine year-old self in which she complains, loudly, about the injustice of living in a household with two brothers and a sister, and regularly missing dinner on account of misbehaving. It was revelatory to hear her use the word "bitch" to describe her father, and made me realize that all those PG films that are aimed at preteens are for naught; children are just like adults, only smaller. They have the same thoughts, use the same curse words, they just don't have the life experience necessary to mitigate what's happening to them in the moment.
Other readers included Lori Goldenhersh, whose struggles with weight loss as a teenager were both heartbreaking and hilarious; Katie Johnston-Smith, who sang her own teenage Christian rock compositions (including a piece entitled "Stairway to Heaven", which she penned prior to learning of the existence of Led Zeppelin); Lacy Katherine Campbell, whose spoke in glowing terms of her aspirations of traveling to London; Sara Nitz, who unabashedly read diary entries describing herself as a genius, and cuter than you; and Melissa Thornley, whose scandalous description of ice cream earned her the title of "most likely to write a dessert column for Playboy magazine" in the playbill. Shay DeGrandis, mistress of ceremonies and producer of the Mortified Chicago chapter, rounded out the evening by sharing some goth poetry written in a black journal decorated with black puffy paint.
There is something so cathartic and raw about hearing people read words from their youth, words that were never meant to see the light of day or reach the eardrums of any living listeners. It is almost always hilarious (almost always unintentionally), and leaves the audience thinking about digging up their own journals and artifacts from their youth.
Mortified is a semi-regular reading series that is always seeking new contributors, their next show will be at the Beat Kitchen on June 10. For more info visit Get Mortified. The Blue Ribbon Glee Club performs at various venues around Chicago, and can be found on facebook and online.