If ‘60s big band music and satirical masculinity is your thing, Ricky Lagoon will make you swoon.
For one night only, the comedy concert “Ricky Lagoon: He Croons!” will include classic swing and jazz tunes with never before heard jokes, performed for the first and last time at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Kate McCarthy, a University of Minnesota senior studying theatre arts and sociology, created the Ricky Lagoon character simply because she loves Wayne Newton.
“I was living in New York for a while, and when I was lonely or sad I would watch Wayne Newton videos,” McCarthy said. “I was just so fascinated by that style of performance, that crooner vibe.”
This crooner style is fully embraced in the show, which features music made famous by Frank Sinatra and Wayne Newton himself.
McCarthy's own Ricky Lagoon has machismo. He has swagger and he has charm.
“I want there to be a lot of wild tales and stories of ex-wives and trips around the world,” McCarthy said. “I want it to be a lot of like behind the scenes, inside scoop [of the entertainment industry], but all with a degree of absurdism.”
While Ricky Lagoon will not be accompanied by a full band, McCarthy’s music director Tony Arias put together a rhythm section and four horns to achieve a similar sound.
“A lot of what I’ve been doing is changing these big band arrangements to shape this much smaller jazz combo sound,” Arias said. “We still get the same vibe and orchestration across.”
The rehearsals thus far have been focused on the musical aspect of the show. Arias and Colby Hansen, the assistant music director, have been working to arrange each song to fit the band they have brought together.
Songs like Wayne Newton’s version of “Falling in Love With Love” and “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones transport the audience back to the ‘60s.
“I am really excited to just freakin’ dance,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been going to a little secluded room in the theater building and looking in the mirror and, truly like a teenager in her bedroom, holding my phone like it’s a mic and playing the music and doing swaggering dances all around.”
Having the stage at the Cedar opens up more opportunities for McCarthy and the band to be creative and intentional with their setting.
“In an older age, I think that’s where a singer like Ricky Lagoon would have come through town and performed,” McCarthy said. “I’m really excited because that means we get to do everything that I envisioned us doing. It will really just have the right feel, which I don’t know that I could’ve gotten at most other venues.”
At this point in the process of putting the show together, McCarthy still hasn’t actually practiced her jokes on the stage and in front of the band.
“I keep on asking [McCarthy] to tell me some of the jokes and she doesn’t,” said Arias. “She’s being kind of secretive about it because I think she’s trying to get us to crack up.”
However, McCarthy’s performance as Ricky Lagoon has already gotten laughs from the band — even without the script.
“In the rehearsals, even her singing just has me laughing,” said Hansen. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh my god I’m going to mess up,’ because she’s so funny.”
The May 5 performance will be different from the shows and stand-up that McCarthy has done in the past.
But she’s ready to give Ricky Lagoon the debut he deserves.
“I want it to have a back to back joy feeling,” McCarthy said. “I want them to be laughing from a big joke and before they’ve even recovered from that, we’ve launched into a lush, over the top, big band song. I want it to be gonzo on gonzo.”
What: "Ricky Lagoon: He Croons! A Comedy Concert"
When: May 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis
Cost: $10 general admission, $8 with student ID