In “Little Butchie Sings! A Cockamamie Colored Cabaret” in the IndyFringe Basile Theater,Benn combines song and anecdote with a bit of dancing to tell the story of his self-discovery and adjustment to life growing up in Indianapolis with three counts against him: being black, fat, and gay (in his concise description).
He heads a cast consisting of Sandy Lomax and Paul Nicely, who contribute to the vocals – the most hilarious of which is a spiritual-influenced harmonization of “All God’s Chillun.” And what they all got here is issues, not shoes or wings. Benn knows he’s not alone.
Backing up the singers is a keyboardist with flair, Roger W. Smith, whose musical direction contributes polish and coordination to the performance. Musicals the show’s creator loves — “Eubie,” “Purlie,” “Chicago,” “South Pacific” among them — are spotlighted in the song selection, tied in to sketches and narration.
Benn is ingratiating and thorough in making his youthful psychic wounds explicit, re-creating them in an entertaining and finally uplifting way with the help of Smith and the cast. A spoken-word preface by Cornelius “Preacher C” Shaw puts the playwright-star’s struggles into a wider context and echoes forceful pulpit messages that usually proclaim values other than the ones this hero supports and lives every day.
Well-known as a professional actor around Indianapolis, Benn in this revealing cabaret show wins the audience over with boisterous humor and the underlying tenderness of his storytelling and personal testimony.