‘La-Ti-Do’ at Black Fox Lounge by Cyle Durkee

In one word: Amazing (I wish people would just trust me on that and go see it, but I also understand that I should probably let you know why {so here goes})! Ok, this is unique. La-Ti-Do (Monday nights at the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont {downstairs [at the lounge, not the circle]}) is a confluence of spoken word (storytelling, poetry {slam or otherwise}) and musical theater (with the occasional pop song thrown in), hosted by singer/actor Don Mike Mendoza and Spoken Word Master Regie Cabico. Jonathan Tuzman energetically accompanies all the singers on the piano.

The mix is simply irresistible. People actually snapping instead of clapping. And I finally figured out why they do that (so you can still hear the words being spoken). The emotional investment that you give to the spoken word pays dividends in the songs that you hear. What a wonderful idea.

Pages.d Matam. Photo by Astagram Studios.

Last night was Joshua Morgan’s cabaret night (each week there is another person who is the “star” performer {and then there are a series of ancillary singers, poets, storytellers}). Of course he sang beautifully, but he then brought up talent that you would normally be paying top dollar to see at Signature or Studio.

There were so many delightful moments that stick in my mind. One of my favorites was watching Joshua and his friend Dorea Schmidt sing a song they explained that they would never get to sing this song in a show, so they wanted to do it at this cabaret. They wait for a second, and you wonder why they would never be cast for whatever song was coming up (they are both attractive and talented). And when they start singing “On the Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime and you realize it’s because they’re white. Or when Joshua and another friend, Matthew DeLorenzo singing “One More Kiss” from Follies – song that was apparently written for two sopranos…..aaand they pulled it off beautifully.

There were other great performances: Tracy Lynn Olivera and Joshua harmonizing beautifully on “Move On” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George and Josh and the perky Carolyn Cole performing a very funny rendition of “Small People.”

We also got the treat of hearing Pages.d Matam the Poet. Pages has won several slam poetry contests and it’s apparent why. He creates a garden of revelation in each poem. You will follow the stalk of the narrative until it suddenly blooms into a moment of epiphany for both the poet and the audience. Each of these moments is a fully realized journey that manages to bridge the gap between the day to day deficiency of words, the surge of personal experience, and the capacities of human communication.

The whole evening was just electric. But the evening was not perfect. First, do not trust the website at the Black Fox to tell you when to get there. The website said 8:30. I got there “early” at 8:15 and was told that it had started at 8. So call the venue for showtimes. There were a couple of snafus with the microphones (one of them would go on and off randomly), but that is an issue with the venue’s equipment. And for some reason they took out most of the table seats (everyone was standing at the high tables) so it was very difficult to see anything from the back half of the room. So there are still a few kinks to work out (but it’s part of the adventure).

Vijai Nathan, Joshua Morgan, Matthew DeLorenzo, Dorea Luther, Vijai Nathan, DonMike H. Mendoza, Regie Cabico, Pages.d Matam, George Yamazawa Jr., Farrell Parker, Tracy Olivera, and Shankar Kuru. Photo by Astagram Studios.

Overall the evening was spectacular. I am so excited to have something like this in DC – a chance to create a whole new experience every week and to take musical and spoken journeys that would make Scheherazade jealous. Go see La-Ti-Do, not just for the art, but for the artistry that will leave you tapping your toes and singing from your souls.

It is definitely time for everyone to come to the cabaret!!

La-Ti-Do plays at Black Fox Lounge – 1723 Connecticut Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC.


Read more about this performance on DC Theater Arts.


  1. Hey, I was there too! Wholeheartedly agree that the LaTiDo series has such a wonderful vibe and it’s great to see artists strut their stuff in a genuinely relaxed environment. Go go go, Regie and Don Mike!


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