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September 19th, 2007 Annie Bethancourt | Headout
 

Chocolate Confessions

Don’t get in the way of Joan Freed’s sugar high.

     
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[CAVITYCORE] Disclaimer: I am a jerk. I enjoy extremely offensive humor and I laugh at jokes that include swear words and pointedly make fun of children. If you tripped in front of me on the street, I would have to use all the strength in my body to keep from pointing and doubling over with cruel cackling. So you should know that Chocolate Confessions , a one-woman musical comedy about a candy-shop owner and her quirky clientele, is not the type of entertainment I would normally choose to go see. Unfortunately for me, it’s just the type of entertainment that local actress, singer and playwright Joan Freed loves to perform.

Right from the get-go, with the Ethel Merman-esque opening number, “Everything’s Coming Up Chocolate!,” I knew I was in trouble. A veritable gorge-fest of saccharine sweetness and ooey, gooey cocoa-cuteness, Freed and her Chocolate Confessions deliver the type of vaudevillian corniness and banana-peel humor aimed to please the palates of those who delight in groan-inducing puns and jazz hands. The mostly middle-aged (and older) audience loved it, gobbling up Freed’s painful gags and antics like, well, you know.

I, however, sat unmoved through “The Biggie Wiggie Chocolate Boys,” “It’s Still Rocky Road to Me” and “Craving 9 to 5.” (Not Dolly! Is nothing sacred?) And when Freed launched into “The Candy Bar Wrap Rap,” complete with backward baseball cap, wiggidy-wack dance moves and the lyrics, “Yo, fool!/ Whatcha gonna do/ when ya wanna try and score some chocolate?,” I wasn’t just passively unamused—I was angry . Sitting with clenched fists, breathing deeply, conjuring images of my happy place, I seethed silently and wondered what terrible karmic wrong I could have possibly committed to be subjected to such unbearably sappy sweetness.

Yet my cold, shriveled heart can still acknowledge that Freed is skilled at what she does. She sings! She dances! She writes original tunes as tributes to Betty Crocker and she transforms classic songs like “Mrs. Robinson” into ditties about a 31-flavor ice-cream empire. And, more importantly, she tries so hard. Freed performs with an over-the-top mixture of “aw, shucks” goofiness, conspiratorial winks and jovial warmth that’s just so darn likable—as long as you’re not a jerk like me.


Word Trade Center Theater, 25 SW Salmon St., 784-6220. 7:30 pm Fridays-Saturdays, 2 pm Sundays. Closes Nov. 18. $29-$31.
 
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