This review of Varla Jean Merman's show entitled "Peel Me A Grape" was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 1 (November, 1997) of Applause! Applause!
"Peel Me A Grape" - Varla Jean Merman
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
"Peel Me a Grape" is quite simply one of the finest, most entertaining cabaret shows I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I cannot recommend it enough. If you miss Jeffrey T. Roberson as Varla Jean Merman in "Peel Me A Grape," you will be a diminished individual as a result of your loss. Every second of this show is performed brilliantly and is an audio visual extravaganza. Varla Jean Merman has pre-taped hilarious videos to accompany some of her songs.
The show is enhanced by the active participation of the Lounge-o-Leers (Ricky Ritzel and Aaron Morishita). During a costume change, Ricky Ritzel actually sings a song. This entire show works on every level. The banter between Varla Jean and Ricky is never boring. Varla Jean Merman at all times uses her own magnificent voice which has an excellent range. To pick one song out as my favorite is absolutely impossible. There are hilarious song parodies, many original songs and some old standards performed in quite a unique way.
Varla Jean Merman is destined for stardom. I see two CD's and national recognition coming to her doorstep in the next two years. True talent cannot be denied! Varla Jean Merman won a 1997 Leonardo daVinci Award for Best Performing Artist because of her performance in "Peel Me A Grape" when it first opened at 88's earlier in the year. This extended run of "Peel Me A Grape" which I have just recently seen is actually better than the original since Varla Jean has added one additional song to the show (with accompanying video) that is top quality. Do not miss this show!!! One final performance will take place on Thursday, November 20, 1997 at 10:30 p.m.. Call 212-924-0088 after 4 p.m. to make reservations.