I’ve always maintained—sometimes against stiff critical headwind—that cabaret is essentially a form of musical theatre, and that some of the best cabaret artists are the ones with a solid stage background. If you doubt that, head on over to the Missouri History Museum to see Christy Simmons’s "Count Your Blessings" and be convinced.
Christy Simmons makes a welcome return to St. Louis theatre with a beautifully realized performance as Sophie Tucker in The Last of the Red Hot Mamas. Tucker was a major star in vaudeville and nightclubs in a career that lasted from the turn of the last century until her death in 1966. In order to get work when she started, she performed in blackface – not something she liked, but she turned to African-American performers of the day for advice to make her numbers authentic. She carried that training with her when she dropped the blackface. That, and her frequent double-entendres and slightly raunchy material gave her performances a quality rare at the time, one that justified her claim to be "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas."