Fans of piano bars and downtown cabarets have known Melissa Driscol for years as the perky and sweet songstress who cheerfully blends the sex-kittenish charm of Brigitte Bardot with the burlesque wit of Mae West. After a cabaret/one-woman-musical last year that narrated her dating life from adolescence to the present, she recreated the show to include some hot chorus boys and other performers, adding scenes and sketches as well as some original songs to round out the narrative. The final product, called Uncut, has been playing at the Stonewall Inn and other venues in the Village, and ends its current incarnation at the Triad tonight.
A show about her own dating life felt natural to Driscol, and certainly gave her plenty of material-both comic and poignant-to work with. "When I was four years old, I asked my mom to marry me to a neighbor," she recalls, and then laughs. "She knew she was in for trouble! And then when I was 10, she caught me playing 'drive-in movie' in the car. When I got my own car, she caught me with a boy, and when I was 16, she caught me kissing a girl." Each relationship-from boyfriends to best friends to roommates-becomes fodder for the show, with several original songs reflecting on what each connection meant to her.
"It was great to do a cabaret by myself, but what brought it to life was getting other actors to play the roles," Driscol says. The show, she says, is an "exaggeration of the truth." The actual statements from various characters are all true, and every scene is lifted from a moment in her life. "I kept the script tight and the characters clear," she says of her writing process. "I think all people who have ever dated can relate to the shoW. Maybe not to every scene, but at least some of them."
Constantly refining and reshaping the piece, she has been able to get the show closer to what she wants it to be-more of a one-act musical comedy than a cabaret. "It has a narrative arc, and a little bit of a farcical quality," she says of Uncut's current state. "I've added scenes and songs that will give it more of an arc as well as make it more true-to-life."
While tonight's run at the Triad is being billed as a "Finale," Driscol doesn't think this is the end of Uncut. "My fantasy would be that someday it could be an actual show," she says. "My dream is to keep working on it in a workshop [setting] and writing new music." For the short term, she plans to continue writing new material and performing. "I've always enjoyed the venue of cabaret theater, and I plan on continuing in that," she says. "No matter what happens, it's been a fun experience. I'm very grateful to anyone who's contributed their time to the project with open heart and open spirit," she adds. "I've been blessed."