Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Devin Bannon channels Klaus Nomi in Alien/Angel at Café Nordo

Café Nordo recently presented its 10th season of six world-premiere immersive, theatrical dining experiences. Relying on relationships with local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, composers, actors, and visual artists, Café Nordo serves up modern cuisine in an ever-changing setting with live music and Seattle’s top performers.

The unique theatre dinner presented the world premiere of Alien/Angel on Feb 8, where Devin Bannon challenged the larger-than-life Klaus Nomi in a brilliant, moving performance. Bannon played dual roles of actor and writer to perfection, with Anastasia Workman on piano and Kathy Moore on guitar. The whole performance played out in nine touching musical acts of Klaus Sperber’s rock alter ego Nomi, directed superbly by director Keira McDonald.

Photo credit: Bruce Clayton Tom

Bannon took us from 1950s Berlin to 1980s New York as he turned himself into Klaus, in a scintillating rendition of his life as a young, queer German gifted with a soprano vocal range, during the different stages of his life. Known as the weirdo’s weirdo, the flamboyant Klaus moved to Manhattan in the 1980s with a generation of youth inspired by Warhol’s Factory. Bannon told the story of Klaus’s escapades and struggles in the big apple – his futuristic, latex costumes, his outlandish makeup, his dramatic manner, and his ethereal voice. It talks about how Klaus carved his own unique place in NYC’s underground music scene. The story takes us to Klaus’s comeback from outer space, where he talks about his first encounter with fame. The narrative also tells us about Klaus’s rather tragic death as one of the first celebrity victims of the AIDS epidemic, all of 39 years, and just when his celebrity was on the rise.

Klaus had another burning talent besides music, he was a gifted baker too. As a starving young musician, Klaus was known for bartering his delicious homemade pies for studio time and rehearsal space to create incredible music that would go on to inspire artists like David Bowie and Joey Arias.

Photo credit: Bruce Clayton Tom

Keeping in tune with the narrative, award-winning Chef Erin Brindley crafted a four-course menu of pies, savory and sweet, that went deliciously with the story. What puts Café Nordo in a class of its own, is the synchrony and parallel story between the theatrical acts and the food itself. The food is an integral part of the performances and the menu is deftly woven to suit the narrative. Both the food and the performances serve to complement and elevate each other.

The four-course pie menu was cleverly interspersed between the different acts. The first course was the Fatayer Triangle Pie, made with round spiced lamb with pomegranate molasses and a tart cherry chutney. We moved on a delectable second course of savory sweet potato pie with candied bacon. The third course was a classic: buttery Shepherd’s Pie. The evening finished with a fantastic lime pie, said to be adapted from Klaus Nomi’s own recipe, a sweet end to a beautiful, melodic evening. To experience an evening to remember at Café Nordo, check out their calendar here.

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