Milly’s Orchid Show is that rare fringe crossover hit that has neither lost its hipster cachet nor gotten too big for its britches. And Milly May Smithy certainly could have gone uptown long ago. Not only does she routinely sell out big houses like the Park West (she was even invited to christen the glitzy new Goodman Theatre), she’s made a habit of including big-name acts in her homegrown hootenanny: Eric Bogosian, Robert Klein, Nora Dunn, Frank McCourt. But Brigid Murphy–the brain, brawn, and spit behind the Orchid, not to mention the woman underneath Milly’s towering wig–has remained true to the grassroots spirit that gave birth to the show 14 years ago. This year she’s assembled her second “all-gal review,” bringing back two of Chicago’s most valuable exports: monologuist Marcia Wilkie–the only open lesbian ever to coauthor a book with Marie Osmond–and untamed chanteuse Paula Killen. Singing backup are Honey West, Cin Salach, Karol Kent, and Alexandra Billings. Also on the bill are Kelly Kessler, formerly of the Texas Rubies, with her new country twang ensemble the Wichita Shut-ins, monologuist Cheryl Trykv, and local flamenco whiz Wendy Clinard. Best of all, Murphy is intent on nurturing the next generation of Orchidites; nine-year-old Maxinova–daughter of pianist Michael Greenberg of Maestro Subgum and the Whole–will open the show tapping and singing to the evening’s ironic anthem, that delightful misogynist chestnut “Femininity.” Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959. Saturday, September 29, 8 PM (doors open 7 PM). $25.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Susan Anderson.