In Chinatown’s reportedly haunted Great Star Theater, Kat Robichaud regaled San Francisco with her army of spooks for the second night of A Very Bloody Misfit Cabaret on Oct. 8. The Halloween-themed incarnation of the former “The Voice” finalist’s eccentric variety show came with a warning label: There will be blood.
Guests sitting in the first four rows of the theater were handed complimentary ponchos, a precautionary measure for what was deemed a “fake blood splash zone.” Some audience members gleefully awaited the bloodbath, others looked a little unsure when the lights dimmed.
Clad in a wine-red “Beetlejuice” suit and a voluminous white wig, Robichaud kicked off the night with a “bloody misfit medley.” She and her band, The Darling Misfits, cycled through everything vaguely Halloween-themed, from “This is Halloween” to “Zombie” by The Cranberries, and of course, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Robichaud lent raw power to every song, her ferocious vocals and fiery stage antics a byproduct of her glam rock background. Her voice alone could have kept the crowd mesmerized, but the Misfit Cabaret was about more than just her. This was a variety show, after all.
Robichaud welcomed the ghouls and ghosts she had lined up for the night ahead, singing of the cabaret as “a place where we can be ourselves, no matter what they may be.”
The first to grace the stage, appropriately, was Richie Lillard, a professional Dr. Frank N. Furter impersonator. Not only did he lip sync impeccably to the “Sweet Transvestite” scene in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” hips swaying suggestively all the while, he also kept things frisky throughout the night. With witty banter and a near-constant barrage of sexual innuendos, Lillard made even the intermission — an audience costume contest — a delight.
Carletta Sue Kay, wearing a lopsided wig and oversized sunglasses, gave a perhaps intentionally awkward performance. She grappled with an unreliable microphone and clutched a tiny ukulele, bewildering the audience for a moment before opening her mouth to sing. While lacking the pizazz of headliner Robichaud’s act, her vocals shook with soulful vigor.
If anyone had a shot in the dark at competing with Robichaud’s kickassery, though, it would be Operafication, the show’s jarring suspension opera act. Hushed gasps filled the theater as an opera chanteuse was hoisted into the air by hooks clamped to her back while sweetly singing. A masked figure in stilts spun her in circles, real blood beginning to drip from her shoulders. The palpable mix of horror and awe at the sight perhaps detracted from a beautiful vocal performance, but it was the exact type of shock the show had promised.
Apart from ghastly gimmicks, the most impressive feat on display at the Misfit Cabaret is the fact that Robichaud writes two original songs specially for each Cabaret (A Very Bloody Misfit Cabaret being one in a series of Cabarets, each with a different theme). The first of the two songs involved Robichaud emerging from a wooden coffin in a “Sleepy Hollow”-inspired black and white gown as she growled the menacing chant “she’s waiting at the bottom” over and over. In the second, titled “Bully,” she was dressed as Stephen King’s Carrie, complete with a prom dress and tiara. When a bucket of fake blood was dumped over her head, Robichaud howled, her voice reflecting the vengeful streak of the murderous teen.
The night ended as it had begun — with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Blinking fake blood out of her eyes, a slimy Robichaud crawled into the laps of audience members as she sang “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.” The audience, clearly well-acquainted with “Rocky Horror,” sang along to every word.
The Misfit Cabaret is a ballad for the freaks, the outcasts, the sexual deviants and lovers of all things off-kilter. It’s a celebration of campy weirdness, not backing away from gratuitous horror or even inviting audience members on stage for a “Monster Mash” dance party at curtain call. And with the powerhouse Robichaud at the heart of it, the cabaret lives to tell the tale — that is, one of freakish talent and bone-chilling revelry.