Off-Off-Broadway, Cabaret/Music

Location: The Duplex (61 Christopher Street)

                                                       Michael Holland and Karen Mack in Hole-o-matic

BOTTOM LINE: This hilarious singing duo performs medleys of every possible song from the 70's and 80's.

If you are looking for something a bit different, you may want to consider Hole-O-Matic!. It's a musical review that borders on theater but it's in a cabaret setting. It could easily be seen in an off-Broadway venue but for the time being you can catch it at The Duplex in the West Village. The show is performed by comedy duo Karen Mack and Michael Holland as they bring their multi-award winning mix of harmony and humor to the best (and worst!) of past, present and future pop. From ABBA to Queen to Kylie, expect lush vocals and comic mayhem in what is always a spontaneous and one-of-a-kind musical experience. The show is an all request evening so each week the performance is completely original. The two sing medleys (or "mash-ups" for you Glee fans) of songs from the 70's and 80's and each one is creatively arranged by Holland. Some of the songs are solos, some are duets, for some he plays the piano for others the guitar...but all of the songs are great. Holland and Mack explain that neither one of them ever knows the complete lyrics to any one song so their only choice is to do bits and pieces of a lot of songs. They also say it is for the K-Tel generation. K-Tel, you may remember, is the record company that used to advertise on television in the 70's with snippets of various songs and you heard it so often that you knew which snippet would come next.

The show is put together randomly via a Hole-a-dex (ehem, rolodex) that sits at each table.  As you sit and wait to order your drinks you go through and choose a few songs that you would like to hear. There are easily over a hundred choices and for each you get to see a description of the song or medley. You drop your choices into a bowl and then as the show progresses, audience members pull out the next song. Apparently, these two singers have photographic memories because any song in the repertoire could be pulled at any time and there are a lot of choices. My favorite of the evening was "The Fucking Medley" which consisted of several songs about making love; ie. "I Feel Like Making Love," "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," etc. They are arranged with great skill and sung brilliantly. Another medley that was chosen was "The Boat Medley" and they combined "Don't Rock the Boat," "Don't Pay the Ferryman" and the theme to The Love Boat.  See how it works?  Really funny.  

Between songs the two chat and interact with the audience and just have a great time.  It's hard to to tell what is scripted and what is off-the-cuff because it flows so seamlessly. They give a little history about themselves and how they met. It's sort of like hanging out with two of your really funny friends who just happen to sing for you. The night I saw it, there were a few ballads pulled out of the bowl which they said was rare. Holland sang a beautiful version of "Calling You" from the obscure film Baghdad Cafe that was preceded by an autobiographical version of Cher's "Half-breed."

You never know what you're going to get when you see this show. Hole-O-Matic! is a lot of fun and you get to drink while you're there, so it's even better by your second cocktail. Don't let the cabaret setting throw you. As Holland says, "cabaret is just like show business, but without the hope." Mack and Holland harmonize perfectly, finish each others sentences, make each other laugh and give a great show. Together they make a perfect pair. They assure us they are not married but they are certainly a match made in cabaret Heaven.

(Hole-O-Matic! plays at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street at 7th Avenue. Performances are Saturdays at 7:30.  The show runs 75 minutes with no intermission.  Tickets are $15 plus a two-drink minimum.  For more information please go to