How was your experience?
Seemed somewhat unrehearsed, disorganized. Not in a good way. I've seen the talented performers previously—with one or two exceptions—and it appeared that they were simply re-performing their acts to Tom Waits music with little actual variation or meaning. The "Professor" was an exception—with one banjo, this guy really turned the show around for a while—and the "cat puppet" thing was cool, but most of it was performed in pitch blackness and was invisible to the audience until the puppeteer begged for a spotlight. Stage production was poor, and the every-intermission-pleas-for-more-money became tiresome rapidly. Familiar dances, familiar jugglers and an irritating "Lithuanian Cowboy" act that seemed to be beyond the control of fellow performers or producers that resulted in too little funny or entertainment to validate the generated awkwardness—these all added up to a very disappointing set of acts. To be fair, we did not stay for the third act, the burlesque, so perhaps that made the hit-and-miss journey of the first two acts worthwhile—there are certainly extremely talented performers that would have only been featured in that portion of the show who could've pulled viewers from the general numbness between interesting moments, and rallied the audience back to life and engagement. But, as a "tribute" to Tom Waits, the show seemed little better than a student-run production in a 7th grader's backyard designed to entertain each other more than an actual audience. Finally,I would like to suggest to Russell that there can certainly be more to his "hosting persona" than waggling his eyebrows and moustache at every opportunity—which is at best a comedic accent, but certainly not a punchline—and that time exercising those facial tics would be better spent on better writing and control over his colleagues. Would I try again? Yes. I know, right? After all this? But, the fact is that everyone in that show has a lot of heart—and it shows—I remain hopeful that they will be able to harness their enthusiasm, focus their intent and deliver a show to an audience who is not made up solely of their friends and 'insiders' that showcases them as the outstanding talents they are, behaving professionally and in concert.