Review: Introducing Molly Pope

by Jane

Nervous yet confident hands grasping her small and suitably retro suitcase, Molly Pope surveys the world spread out before her. New York City. The Big Apple. The Big Time. Broadway.

This is the city which will take little Molly Pope, conveniently born a red-headed orphan when both her parents died during childbirth, from her small town to stardom. It won’t be easy, but Molly has watched enough movies in the convent, where the nuns played movies to raise money in the face of dwindling Sunday attendance numbers, that she knows how to follow a path to The Top.

Molly Pope

With her acting course she is surely qualified to be your waitress.  Oh… you… sorry?  No, but if you just look at her resume.  Are you sure, when you hear her name on the radio you can say “she worked here!”  But… Okay.  Sure.  No, no, that’s fine.

It will be rocky, sure, but if anyone can make it, it’s Polly Mope. That’s the name they’ll be yelling, Polly Mope!

Well, yes, it is is too bad they won’t be yelling Molly Pope.

It is Molly Pope!

And you’re right, it’s not the nicest bar, but it’s a job.  And she’s no waitress here, sir, so if you could just find one of the other girls.

Oh, you’re a … producer? You’re not a producer! You are?! A Broadway producer?!  Well, if you would just stick around for one song, Molly will be right back and she would love to chat. Just hold on for one quick song, she’ll be here in a flash.

Just you wait, it may not look like much now, but just you wait, it’s a long climb to that top and Molly is going to hit every rung – twice! Sure, once will be on the way down, but we can forget that one, can’t we?

But he’s not in. Again. No, no, Molly understands, he’s a very busy man. If he would just send her a text, just so she can know what’s going on.  Just a quick text, that’s all she asks.

A letter.  That’s nice.  That is nice.  That’s… oh.

But never-mind.  Molly Pope will be okay.  There’s more to the world than New York City.  Touring, escaping the city, that’s where she’ll make it.  And boy does she make it.

What?  No.  No!  She was thinking of you the whole time; it’s not cheating then.  He looked like you.  She swears he looked just like you.  Molly Pope surely doesn’t know what you’re insinuating.

And then… is that it?  Is that where it ends?  Molly Pope will have none of that. She’s seen the movies: a little drugs, a little strip, then the press loves nothing more than a good come back story. You just have to find the right angle. Or angles, even.  The right inspiration.  That Hitchock, he had some good ideas going for him, didn’t he…?

In Introducing Molly Pope we are taken along Molly’s insatiable journey chasing stardom in New York City.  In a delightful melding of 80-years of pop music (thank you, press-kit) with the jazz flavour of Pope’s rich, brassy tones favoured by the American musical of the middle of the last century, Pope takes us along the rocking journey of the heightened reality of Molly’s rise and fall.

Appearing without the band in the above video, simply (ha!) with the sensational piano stylings of the sock-footed sure-footed Kenny Melman, the wall to wall musical accompaniment can be, at times, exhausting, as Pope swiftly condenses Molly’s ten-year journey into a one-hour, one-woman piece of musical theatre.

In a world where old meets new, where the hand-cranked phone exists alongside text messaging, where a sixty’s frock exists alongside a colour headshot, Introducing Molly Pope exists in a time which is really neither here nor there, but both.

Pope’s sparsely furnished stage becomes increasingly cluttered with the contents of Molly’s suitcase and the disarray of Molly’s career, as the simple props and costume change punctuate the complex tale.  It is, like I said, at times exhausting, as Pope is near unrelenting in her story and her performance, yet forcing your brain to power through these moments means the payoff of powerful vocals, beautiful stage-presence, and captivating tale is more than worth it.

From rags to riches, to slightly more classy rags, and hopefully back up to riches, it was lovely to be introduced to you, Molly Pope.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival Presents Introducing Molly Pope by Molly Pope and Robby Sandler.  Directed by Jesse Geiger, Musical Direction and piano by Kenny Mellman.  Starting Molly Pope.  Adelaide season closed.  For all my NYC readers, the show plays Ars Nova July 18-20.

For all my Cabaret Festival Reviews, go here.