May 11, 2007
Volume 35
Issue 19
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Tuesday, Dec 01, 2020



Cynthia Hopkins with 'Gloria Deluxe' in Must Don't Whip 'Um at On the Boards
by E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

Must Don't Whip 'Um
May 3rd-6th
On the Boards

Cynthia Hopkins has found a clever, playful and entertaining vehicle to showcase her original music and band "Gloria Deluxe" in her multimedia performance piece "Must Don't Whip 'Um". She was inspired by the true account of a woman named Isabelle Eberhardt, a turn-of-the-century writer, born in Geneva, Switzerland, who moved to Morocco, converted to Islam, adopted a male pseudonym and persona and joined a Sufi brotherhood.

Hopkins' fictitious character is minor 1970's pop star, Cameron Seymour, giving a farewell concert before she mysteriously disappears, to leave the U. S., on the verge of a nervous breakdown, to join a Sufi brotherhood and escape her financial, artistic, personal and political failures far, far away. Her daughter, Mary, is trying to piece together memories and to reconcile the abandonment by her mother by creating a video documentary. Throughout the piece, video is used in fascinating and complimentary ways to enhance the live performance, including the creation of mind-bending illusions as live people interact with performers on video and videoed performers are placed in unusual physical spaces. At one point for example, Hopkins is projected, singing from the front surface of her Arabic scribbled upright piano. Fellow performers, collaborators and tech wizards Jim Findley and Jeff Sugg, (who both also work with the multi-media, tech-oriented Wooster Group) are responsible for the interesting multi-media touches here.

Dressed in bohemian/eccentric clothing, her head wrapped in a turban with a tambourine hat and adorned in pseudo-Bedouin tribal clothes, Hopkins spins like a Sufi , swathed in a long flowing cape and harem pants, with a painted on moustache and with a touch of Kitsch--a pair of black Chanel sunglasses with rhinestones. She sings her way through the piece with her talented band in ten original songs. Hopkins' compositions have an alternative-country, bluesy feel to them, with a touch of soul, rock, jazz and even a tad of east village Klezmer, blending together into some unique material. Her voice has that alt-country yearning twang, combined with the sound of haunting, honeyed blues.

"Gloria Deluxe", formed in 1999, is comprised of: Susan Oetgen (actor/singer), Kristin Mueller (drums), Josh Stark (upright bass), Philippa Thompson (violin, saw, and percussion), Karen Waltuch (viola, percussion) with guests Reut Regev (trombone) and Ben Holmes (trumpet). All the musicians provide vocals. The musicians are all accomplished and played very tightly together, with a special nod to Ben Holmes, who played crystalline trumpet solos.

Cynthia Hopkins provided the On the Boards audience with a colorful, lively, up-lifting, dramatic, fantasy romp through her wild and creative imagination. I enjoyed her band and look forward to their next endeavor.

"Must Don't Whip 'Um" was co-commissioned by On the Boards.

For more information about Cynthia Hopkins and "Gloria Deluxe," visit For more information about On the Boards and their upcoming production, "The Adventures of Ali & Ali and the aXes of Evil", by Vancouver, B.C.'s neworldtheatre, May 16th-20th, visit

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