Actors and actresses have a lot of people to thank for their time in the spotlight, and no one knows this better than actress-singer-sugar-baby-former-addict-mother-of-David-Crosby’s-baby-via-IVF Miss Beryl Swiver. This unstoppable (she literally won’t let you leave) performer gives a one-of-a-kind performance in this highly irreverent cabaret musical memoir recounting stories through her turbulent childhood, awkward sex education from dubious sources, to the start of her acting career, all leading up to… wherever she is now. With the help of her accompanist Richard, Beryl sings and dances and vagina-jokes her 21st century blues to smithereens, fully embracing her true self— cease and desists and all. But don’t take it from us, take it straight from the horse’s foul mouth, because no one tells Miss Beryl Swiver’s story like Miss Beryl Swiver. Though she may seem a little rough around the edges, we know she’d be thankful that you listened— even if you didn’t have a choice.
Thanks a Lot – My Gratitusical! is a comedic cabaret parody starring Miss Beryl Swiver, who uses songs and snippets of her life story to thank her teachers, her family, her mentors, her lovers, and her audiences for the support they have given her throughout her “journey.” We discover almost immediately that her version of that journey is hilariously disingenuous, and along the way we enjoy learning a good deal about her own self-absorption, delusions, and dysfunction.
As the show begins, we see Miss Beryl Swiver, an icon-of-a-certain-age, dressed in an over-wrought, anachronistic lounge performer style, and her accompanist Richard going over music at the piano. Beryl notices the audience and runs very visibly offstage. She then loudly voices her own introduction, enters with a flourish, and sings her opening, welcoming the audience and asking them to come along with her as she performs songs that come “straight from her heart”— actually from her accompanist's catalogue— to show her gratitude for all of the experiences that have brought her to a new and very important turning point in her life, which she will reveal at the end of the show.
Her first memories are of her childhood Sunday school teacher’s warm, if misguided, advice, which we hear detailed in the song “Jesus Loves Little Losers."
Beryl then tells us a bit about her early adolescence, and the importance that her 8th grade gym teacher’s warnings had for to her, which she recalls in the song "The Popular Girl," about the tragic end that comes to a girl who stupidly finds herself attracted to, yeccch… boys.
But it’s Beryl’s devoted, if imperfect, mother who really sets her straight about how to deal with the amorous attentions of teenage males, in the tender— if perhaps overly specific— lullaby “You’re Sixteen Today."
Beryl was quite happy to take her mother’s advice, because she knew that wasting her time pleasing young men would only take time away from trying to make it the world of modeling. She finds herself very grateful for a mentor, her first agent, who helpfully clues her in to why she’s not getting any bookings, reminding her that “All Food Makes You Fat."
But life sometimes intervenes in unexpected ways, and Beryl couldn’t wait around for modeling jobs since raising her mother’s bail was suddenly more important… so she found herself a job at a local senior retirement home, where she met her first great love. The fact that he was approximately 80 years older than her wasn’t going to stand in the way of a marriage made, albeit hastily, in heaven, as she explains in her emotional ballad “’Til Death Do Us Part."
This brief marriage left Beryl a widow, but there was a silver lining… several millions worth! And Beryl, newly rich and ready to party, finds her way to the one spot she figured would have nothing but handsome, eligible young men. It turns out she could have used some better local geographic information, which she complains about in the Disco anthem “Tell Me Why [The Cute Guys Are All Queer].”
Although she is not able to find a suitable mate there, Beryl does enjoy her years, and years, of partying— until she figures out that the parties have all been at her expense and the guests have all disappeared once the money and— um, party favors— were all gone.
At this point she wants to move forward with the next chapter in her very, very personal story but can’t, because she has forgotten the highbrow segue Richard wrote for her. After they struggle their way through an introduction heavy on philosophy and light on words, Beryl understands, she finally gets to the song that describes the unhappy night she spent with a “bearded hipster” who challenged the very idea that she existed at all (“Love and Nothingess [Don’t Ever Tell a Solipsist You Love Him]”).
This experience convinces Beryl that looking for love was just a waste of the time that could be better spent getting her performing career back on track… so she decides to check in to the one place where she knew she could find all of the showbiz connections she would need to move forward— rehab! And she is happy to share this bit of important advice with stage moms and young performers everywhere, in “You Can’t Go to Rehab [If You're Not Fucked Up].”
Her brief decade in rehab has put Beryl on the right track professionally, so she decides she is sane and sober enough to rekindle an old flame from her perhaps delusional past— TV star John Hamm! Grateful to the Maps to the Stars Homes for leading her back to him, she describes her reunion with, some might say imprisonment of, Mr. Hamm, in the swinging “I’m Never Gonna Let You Get Away From Me.”
Happily, Beryl was able to convince a sympathetic judge to let her off with an easy stretch of community service, and even more happily, her experience in court allowed her to meet the man she was sure would be Mr. Right… an attractive lawyer who seemed, on the surface, to have it all. Alas, he was missing a very important attribute, which we learn in her song “Dude [Where’s Your Dick?].”
Somewhere in the middle of this song, Richard, the songwriter and accompanist, gets fed up with the obvious male bashing, and, even though he did write the lyric, is now having deep second thoughts about the subject matter. Beryl can’t believe he would interrupt the show to cause this sort of onstage commotion, but he is adamant that he will not continue until balance is achieved by Beryl giving equal time to the physical deficiencies of some members of the female sex. She decides to do what he requests, in a way that will make him sorry he asked for it.
When she has finished giving the audience a brief history lesson, she returns to finish the song, and to begin to wind up the show.
Telling the audience that she had finally felt she'd been let down enough, she remembers the grim warning her 8th grade gym teacher had given her about the getting involved with… yecch… boys. And she is now ready to reveal to the world her big surprise… Beryl has gotten married! To a woman!!
She finally reveals the biggest surprise of all (after yelling at an audience member for looking at his watch): she and her wife have a baby! How? By using the frozen sperm of another icon, the inimitable “David Crosby."
Finally, in a story full of surprises, there is one big twist left: Beryl admits she isn’t really interested at all in being a mother. At all. So she tosses the baby to her new wife Brenda and explains to us that ultimately it's her public, her audience, that give her all the love she really needs. It's their adulation… and performance fees… for which she is truly grateful.
After the final reprise of the opening number (“Thanks a Lot”), Beryl takes several more bows than necessary, and begins to exit— but instead launches almost straight into her encore before waiting to find out whether the audience actually wants one, singing (as a solo or as a duet with Richard) a song about how we should all express our gratitude with unselfish acts whenever we can— in this case, hand jobs for hobos.
With that, after some actual sincere thanks to the audience, to Richard, and to the crew in the booth, Beryl exits.
Filthy, sly, and hilarious!
–Hollywood Fringe Reviews
Miss Beryl Swiver – 40-ish cabaret singer, dresses “classy” in an anachronistically cocktail lounge way. Vocal range F below C to D octave above C (melodies may be adjusted slightly if necessary).
Richard – Her accompanist/songwriter. Role does not require singing. If duet is sung on encore, range is E below to F above middle C.
Setting: A small cabaret stage with piano or keyboard, barstool, mic stand, and prop mic (may be live mic for larger venues).
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Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for Thanks a Lot – My Gratitusical!, click here.
“A slam dunk.”
“Funny, smart, absurd, and super entertaining.” –Hollywood Fringe Reviews
“…the songs are witty and dark… highly recommended!” –Fringereview (Intl.)
Materials: Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production. They can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Thanks a Lot – My Gratitusical! includes: