Was very excited to see Rebecca Perry’s Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl at Toronto Fringe, directed by Matt Bernard – the 2.0 version of the show Perry ran at the Storefront Theatre back in June, 2013. Monday’s matinée was sold out, and included a group of kids from the St. Christopher House summer camp.
Perry plays multiple characters, chiefly our redheaded heroine Joanie Little, an anthropology grad working a day job as a barista until she catches a break in her field. Joanie could also use a break in the romance department. Making lemonade from lemons, she passes the time during her shifts at the shop by observing the local fauna.
This is solo show performance at its best, with Perry rolling out a cast of characters in Joanie’s world like a wild kingdom field guide: Gabe, her gorilla-like boss, her recovering addict co-worker, the various café regulars, and a mysterious and charming customer named Marco. At home, she converses with a photograph of her hero, Jane Goodall.
In addition to a fine collection of characters, sharply drawn and executed with energy and truth, Perry makes use of an impressive set of pipes, incorporating songs from musicals, standards and folk ballads to reveal Joanie’s thoughts and emotions. The musical portions of the show are supported by Jeffrey P. Jones (guitar) and Quinton Naughton (keyboard), who also provide some fine back-up vox.
Excellent use of the Annex Theatre space, with Joanie’s apartment placed on the stage right staircase (above the shop in Joanie’s world), a quiet, private place away from the microcosm of the world at-large in the shop below (set design by Dean Johnston).
While the earlier version of Coffeeshop Girl had more of a 20-something coming of age vibe, this time around focuses more on a forward-moving trajectory of personal growth – and the realization that by being open and in the moment – and following one’s heart – the universe will offer some beautiful opportunities.
Perry is an adorable, storytelling, singing dynamo – and she’s created a character that is open-hearted, vulnerable, positive and strong. And the ending of the play is the start of a new chapter – and a new adventure – in Joanie’s life, so aptly expressed in the song “Rivers and Roads.”
This particular performance of Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl was sponsored by Aroma Espresso Bar, and the audience was treated to free coffee in the ticketholder line before the show. Perry is touring the show, travelling to Saskatoon, Victoria, Seattle and New Orleans. You can help out with touring expenses by purchasing the music from the show – either on CD after the show or by going online to the show’s bandcamp page.
Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl is an adorkably funny, smart and heartwarming piece of life, love and social anthropology. And I dare you to not fall in love with Joanie Little – and, by extension, Rebecca Perry.
The show runs at the Annex Theatre until July 13 – check here for exact dates/times. Strongly suggest advance purchase for this one.
In the meantime, check out the trailer vid: