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Friday, Oct. 31, 2008

Lesbian Cabaret

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Milwaukee native Kathryn Lounsbery has followed a rapid upward trajectory since moving to the West Coast. She hit the ground running right out of graduate school, landing a job as pop keyboard editor for prestigious Alfred Publishing. As impressive as that may be, Lounsbery’s day job pales next to her current side project, a lesbian cabaret show named That’s What She Said, which she and partner Amy Turner have been crafting since 2006. Always bright and eloquent, Lounsbery brimmed with enthusiasm when we discussed her show.

How would you describeThat’s What She Said?

That’s What She Said is a music and comedy show, with all original songs, covering every style of music: jazz, folk, rock, rap, disco and a mini opera.

Sounds ambitious. Tell me about the show’s inception.

We wrote it together, lyrics and music. All of the songs came out of improv. We didn’t decide what kind of show we were writing; we didn’t know we were writing a show. We started out with me at my keyboard, Amy sitting next to me holding a digital voice recorder. We’d think of funny topics like fanny packs and U-Hauls, which are two iconic lesbian things—also catchphrases, things from the lesbian vocabulary. We would basically improvise songs. I would guess we have 300 recordings, probably more, every moment of every rehearsal. We burned CDs and listened to them and typed out what we’d come up with, and just pieced together songs.

When were you ready to take things to the next level?

After about nine months, Amy’s friend, director Bob Koherr, came into the mix. He has this ability to say, for example, “This song would be funnier from this point of view,” and he’ll tweak one thing and everything else will fall into place. With his direction, we workshopped the show.

What was that like?

We always joke that we thought we had an embryo and then after the workshop we realized we had a hulking toddler walking to school with a backpack on.

From there things really accelerated, right?

Yes. We sold out a show at The Acme theater in L.A., and are doing shows throughout Northern and Southern California. We’ve gone to the recording studio; we have an edited DVD of the show. We had a four-week run at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood.

The first show we knew everybody in the audience, and by the last show most people were there by word of mouth. There were even some people turned away that night.

Speaking of audience, are you finding that the show has crossover appeal?

Yeah, straight people love the show; gay guys love the show. We’re presenting lesbians in a funny light, because when have there been funny lesbians?

Or, more importantly, humor presented from a lesbian point of view, not the “Will & Grace” style, with lesbians as the butt of jokes.

Initially we wrote about lesbians as this separate group, but as we got immersed in the show we caught ourselves in stereotypes. We’d be upset because the rehearsal wasn’t going well and we’d stop and process, then we’d take a step back and realize how gay that was. Everything we do we have a twinkle in our eye. We’re writing what we know.

To find out more about the show, go to www.myspace.com/thatswhatshesaidshow

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