ORLANDO – Watching singer and entertainer Molly Wilson perform her cabaret show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, I thought for a moment about what it takes to create a really first-rate solo act.
I had already seen quite a few solo shows at Fringe this month, ranging from singers to dramatic readings to intense dramas.
Molly Wilson’s show has a fairly simple and straightforward concept: Molly’s stunningly beautiful voice is used to great effect on some well-chosen songs, and she has great comedic timing. By the end of the hour, as Molly joked with the audience and thanked them for coming, I couldn’t help think about how much work she must have done creating this show; because while it can be summed up as songs and comedy, Molly Wilson is wonderfully entertaining, and truly knows how to reach an audience.
In the beginning of the show, Molly does a particularly effective job of not only introducing herself, but also touching something heartfelt in so many of us: the idea of the small town kid with big dreams. A native of the small town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Molly noted that the locals often asked her why she couldn’t pursue a practical profession, like being a dentist, rather than aiming to become an actress and singer.
Her response: to turn to her mom and say no, singing is her true goal in life.
Molly is quite charming and funny as she recounts her efforts to break into the world of show biz, with some stumbles along the way — like injuring her leg and being fired from the show she was acting in …. only to have the entire cast show up to say goodbye on her final day.
She paints a heartfelt portrait of a common, everyday person, easy to relate to, even when it’s abundantly clear that she has more than her share of very rich talent.
That becomes even more clear in the second part of the show, as Molly transitions from the monologue about her life to some truly engaging visual comedy. After a rousing rendition of the Queen song “Somebody To Love,” Molly brings on her sidekick, Amy, and together they have quite a bit of fun — arguing over whether this hour-long show needs an intermission so Amy can do a puppet show about intermission snacks, or having some fun with the Celine Dion hit “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic,” complete with hilarious costumes. And her routine where she attempts to sing for her dentist is a riot.
And while her comic routines are quite good, Molly also has a soaring voice, and as she sings songs like Aretha Franklin’s “Think,” she’s absolutely dynamic.
This is a really a delightful and enchanting hour, and again, Molly does it so well that she makes it all seem so simple.
But I couldn’t help feeling that this is one performer who works extraordinarily hard behind the scenes to ensure her audience leaves happy. I know I did.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..