Velvet Tom's Red Shoe Diaries | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Velvet Tom's Red Shoe Diaries

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Velvet Tom's Red Shoe Diaries, at Profiles Theatre. In this cabaret parody of autobiographic musicals, the lecherous, red-shoed Velvet Tom--created and performed by ComedySportz veteran Tom Farnan--is a B-list singer (and once the spokesman for Cracker Barrel) but an A-level seducer. His motto: Have love, will travel. He's so good with the ladies, in fact, that he has multiple ex-wives, two of whom (Lori McClain and Alida Vitas) comprise his backup group, the Velveetahs. With their able help, Velvet Tom tells silly stories about his conquests from the 1960s to the present, explaining that he's only looking for love--in whatever form.

Farnan's easy comedy works, partly because he never takes himself too seriously, partly because the many songs are 80s, 90s, and current pop hits sung as if they were jazz standards. This shouldn't be that funny, but as performed by Farnan, McClain, and Vitas and directed by Steph DeWaegeneer, songs like Radiohead's "Creep" and Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" become strangely hilarious. Farnan has a thin, reedy voice that's perfect for pop, and the more full-throated McClain and Vitas provide lush harmonies. John France on guitar and Stephanie McCullough on keyboards provide able accompaniment.

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