CASHINO with Pepper Cole and Johnny NIagra at Birdland

Cashino at Birdland. Courtesy
Cashino at Birdland. Courtesy

NEW YORK – CASHINO with Pepper Cole and Johnny NIagra at Birdland

“Pepper Cole” and “Johnny Niagra,” – known to us civilians as Susie Mosher and John Boswell, are here to make your head spin. Pepper and Johnny have been on a quest for what seems like several decades, bringing their talents into people’s homes as part of their quest to become Internet Stars.

What is wonderful about them is how determined they are to bring their unique talents to the masses, one devotee at a time. No matter how reluctant the recipient of their traveling show is, Pepper and Johnny deliver the goods. Maybe “goods” is too strong a word. Let’s just say they deliver and leave it at that.

The first half of their show is a video of the duo traveling from home venue to home venue. It is an odd choice for a show opening, and frankly, the best thing you could say about it was that it was baffling. Mosher and Boswell are such strong performers that no instruction or introduction is needed. Once they come onstage in person, it is clear that these two misguided characters have us in their crosshairs and are not about to take any prisoners.

After a few minutes of their musical assault, it is best to give in and enjoy the ride.

It is an evening of medleys, which are not only inventive, but they are also astonishing in their intricacy. “Come Sail Away” (Styx) morphs into bits of “The Lonely Goatherd” (Rodgers/Hammerstein), back to “Come Sail Away” and over to Starship’s “We Built this City” and achieves a crescendo that almost achieves lift-off with a snippet of “Believe It or Not” (Joey Scarbury).

They do some very clever banter between medleys that brings you up to date on living situations. Not that good.

Next up musically: “The Wizard of Oz” leads us to “The Very First Time,” to “Ease on Down the Road,” to “The Lollipop Guild” to “Waiting for a Girl Like You” to “If I Only Had A Heart” to “You Want To Know What Love Is” to “The Wiz” to “Hot Blooded” and back to The Wizard of Oz.

You have to be there to believe it.

In a bit of patter, they tell us that Johnny loves his Broadway Musicals and Pepper loves her Power Pop Ballads. But together, they love “Chicago” – and they give us the hits from that musical laid over pop tunes that go so fast you cannot keep up. Just when you think you have latched on to their madness, they wriggle out from under your assumption and scamper ahead of you. The only problem is that the entire audience is laughing so hard you can barely hear them singing.

Look – this is a duo that cannot be pigeon-holed. It is part rodeo, part carnival, part jamboree. With a bunch of rockin’ music and lines so funny, your laughs may become barks. They cover a lot of ground while we watch, including an homage to Dr. Spock (before he was on the Enterprise), clothing-optional entertainment, mental health in small towns, an homage to Prince, carnivals, the Broadway battle heartache, and some Annie magic.

And they even have time to work in a raffle. I didn’t win. *Sigh*

But on the whole, it was a pretty fantastic evening. And not for nuthin’, but Marilyn Maye was in the house – and she has exquisite taste.

Here is the final amazing fact – Boswell is an expansive and adventurous musician who plays the blazes out of that piano and sings, but Mosher – like Ginger Rogers, who danced backward and in heels – does all that music AND LYRICS with no sheet music. She has memorized this tornado of a show. How? She is a little crazy in an adorable way. Lucky for us, she has found an equally crazy and adorable and talented partner.

Get yourself a little Cashino. You will never be the same – in a good way…

Three more performances. Tuesdays, May 28, June 25 and July 30. TICKETS

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Twelfth Night at the Axis Theater, Here There Are Blueberries, Mother PlayFingers and SpoonsUncle Vanya at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln CenterStill at the Daryl Roth TheaterLas Borinqueñas at the Ensemble Studio TheatreSally and Tom at the Public TheaterLempicka at the Longacre Theatre, and The Who’s Tommy.

CASHINO with Pepper Cole and Johnny NIagra at Birdland


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