The stage is set with streamers and a glittering sign reading, “Who Is She.” Almost every seat in Honey is filled and there's a steady hum from the audience, excitedly awaiting a show packed with comedy, music and more.
A woman takes the microphone to warm up the crowd. Soon after, a gym teacher runs out from behind the stage, clipboard in hand and tracksuit on. The variety show “Who Is She” has begun.
Kate McCarthy, a senior studying theatre arts and sociology, organizes the show each month to include a medley of Twin Cities’ actors, comedians, musicians and more. The diverse line-up shares the stage for an hour and 15 minutes, showcasing their talents in a candlelit lounge.
“When I was in Chicago for the summer, I was really inspired by a lot of the cool shows out there. I came back for my senior year really reinvigorated and inspired and revved up,” McCarthy said. “I just ... dreamt up the idea of ‘Who Is She.’ It seemed like a happy joining of all the things I would want to see in a show myself.”
This month’s show, which ran last Wednesday, featured six acts. It included music from local rapper Student 1 and a “The Office” inspired drag performance by University of Minnesota graduate Lillian Noonan, known onstage as Captain Falcum.
“I really appreciate when comedy and performance can kind of break traditional narratives,” Noonan said. “Just like obviously, how the whole set up and emcee bit can become all of these limitless things. … I love when people ... get really creative and can make a typical stand-up bit so much different than you expect.”
The show is hosted each month by a new character McCarthy embraces, making the night's emcee part of the comedic experience. The character moves the show along in a seamless way, keeping the audience captivated.
“I think what I’d like to provide for the Twin Cities is a joining of all of these different performance types,” McCarthy said. “You can go to HUGE Theater and you can see improv, and you can go to a house show or to First [Avenue] and see music. You can see stand-up at the clubs and spoken word at like spoken word events, but there easily could be a place where you see all of that at once. I think that’s kind of fun."
The variety show format introduces audience members to local performers from a variety of creative backgrounds.
“[McCarthy] brings in a bunch of artists that I wouldn’t see on my own time because I wouldn’t have known about them,” said Natalie Shaw, a senior studying theatre, film and creative writing. “It’s a really wonderful idea [for] a variety show, and really well done.”
The show is light-hearted and engaging. It becomes obvious that McCarthy, along with the performers in the show, are passionate about their work and hope to express that to the audience. While the show typically runs once a month, the next one won’t be until January (McCarthy will be interning in New York until then).
“Above all, I hope that people — performers and audience members alike — just think it’s really fun. My goal at every 'Who Is She' is for the audience to leave and be like, ‘Woah, that show gave me everything. Stuff I didn’t even know I wanted,’" McCarthy said. "I want people to just leave feeling absolutely fulfilled ... blown away, so satisfied with the show."