Dressed To Kill
Review by Erin Fagan
I missed the '70s by seven days. You do the math. By definition, then, I am a child of the eighties. My memories of this era are blurry at best, dominated by the kinds of things that children tend to dwell on: the cartoons, the toys, the video games, the big hair, the clothes and, of course, the music. This summer, The Feast's dinner the atre production, Dressed to Kill, revives the trends, hits and fads of the Material Decade in high style.
In this dinner theatre experience, Feasters are ushered back to the year 1987. The Prince Edward lounge of the Charlottetown Hotel is transformed into the interior of the latest and poshest fashion boutique, "The Velvet Slipper." As part of the grand opening events, there is an inaugural fashion show highlighting the Fall collection of two rival designers, the cosmopolitan FiFi LaMorte and the flamboyant Neville Broadbottom. Each fashion mogul has also brought their pet supermodel to the show as part of the publicity: the equally air-headed Jade Capulet and Trey Montague, whose very names hint at their entwined fates. Kendra Dalton, the shoulder-padded manager of the new shop, is ecstatic.
Less enthused is Kendra's brother, Keith, who still owns half of the business. He and a codgerly old fellow called Cooder ran the ancestral tack shop at this spot, and neither of them are crazy about abandoning the past for the sake of the new-fangled. Furthermore, tensions and personal entanglements among the fashionistas threaten to shut the place down entirely. When someone gets murdered, everyone is subjected to the mad interrogations of a campy detective, Magnum P.E.I. It is Fashion Television gone horribly wrong
In true dinner theatre fashion, the characters serve food to their guests and launch into medleys of familiar '80s hits in spite of the earth-shattering turmoil. Among other songs, the cast performs fine renditions of "True Colours," "Material Girl," "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night," and "Footloose." Between segments, the characters proceed to wait on and make small talk with the guests as the plot thickens. This spectator enjoyed using her status as "the press" in her interactions with the image-crazed personas. In fact, I even received a "death threat" or two for hinting that I would reveal certain secrets in my headlines.
The kooky, individualized characters are the greatest strength in a show dominated by suitably cheesy dialogue and predictably predictable plotlines. Each performer has fleshed out a unique and well-rounded persona, and the quirks of the characters shine out as they sing the songs and banter with each other and the guests. All of the actors were sharp, dynamic and excellent improvisors, and exhibit their multiple talents as actors, musicians and singers with ease. That said, the stand-out performer was Feast veteran Trenton MacKinnon, whose mildly unhinged Magnum P.E.I. dominated the second half of the show.