(RI) Holly’s Head Oddities: The ABCs of the Ostrobogulous Celebrating the Bizarre, Unusual and the Slightly Peculiar

Reviewed by Karen Kempskie-Aquino

The ABC’s of the what? I had to look that one up. Ostrobogulous – slightly risqué or indecent; bizarre; interesting or unusual (from Grandiloquent Word of the Day). All that out of Holly Ferriera’s head? Hmm…I was looking forward to this show with it’s appropriate theme for the Halloween season, and I was not disappointed!

Just a few steps from the quaint Main Street of Warren, RI, I walked into the Historic Warren Armory and a very different world. Dark electronic and goth music provided by DJ Chad filled the air. People floated around in street clothes and in costume. Pinpoints of colored lights danced on the walls and ceiling. As I settled into my seat, I noticed two black cylinders flanking the entrance to the hall. They were moving and the bodies within were reaching out to touch (and startle) people walking into the show. These were the Cylinder Girls, pulsing and writhing to the music in their stretchy, translucent black fabric tubes.

Shortly after the posted 6:00 pm start time, Holly welcomed the audience: “Good evening everyone and welcome to Holly’s Head!” The opening act was the Cylinder Girls, but I was distracted because the entrance door behind them was open to the outdoors and a young boy was sitting on a chair in the foyer. This positioning of the center stage area in front of the entranceway was problematic throughout the show as audience members came and went. The Cylinder Girls were followed by “The Littles Have a Picnic”, four young zombies who danced and acted, and set the theme for the evening.

The ABCs included a host of horrors such as ghosts, deranged people, spiders, death, vampires, skeletons, witches, fireflies, cannibals, zombies (even zombie cheerleaders from Dead U). Many props were used including daggers, swords, webs, veils, wings, buugeng, sticks, roller skates, fan veils, lanterns, capes, canes, Thai nails, skulls, and body parts. This kept the stage manager, Stephanie Medieros extremely busy. She did a fabulous job, but could have used some help at times.

The show contained 39 separate performances, and I can’t comment on all of them, but I will talk about the ones that stood out for me. (Note – the program contained first names only for most of the acts, so that’s all you’ll see here. My apologies for not giving full dancer credit.)

  • D is for Devil: Kate is a skilled Tribal Fusion dancer who was sultry hot and had fabulously expressive eyes.
  • E is for Eight: Ursula was a black widow spider with very clever costuming. She came out with six additional legs (that detached for the dance) and used a net “web” for veil work.
  • G is for Grim Reaper: Smoke & Mirrors showed us what happens when Death needs a career change, and I loved the Grim Reaper and Schoolgirl costumes.
  • M is for Metamorphasis: Bella Donna, Jolie, and Lindsay played their unusual musical instruments for us – a French country dance-style tune and a song about love that will last forever… Instruments included a hurdy-gurdy, a xylophone, bowls, and a shruti box – a briefcase-like instrument that sounds like a cross between an accordion and bagpipes.
  • P is for Plague: Nine dancers in elaborate black costumes that covered them head to toe – this was a showstopper and so dramatic! Big, full tulle skirts topped by black coat-like garments; six had tall cone shaped hats with faces and heads covered in black fabric and these six also wielded black and white fan veils during the tail end of the performance. Three had heads covered in the black fabric, but no hats and they were on roller skates, which added some nice movement. However, one skater was clearly more comfortable using this prop than the others. I loved the end of the piece where the three hatless dancers ended in a puddle on the floor in the middle of a circle formed by the other six.
  • T is for Teeth: A fun group number to open the third act. Did I mention there were 12 dancers with canes on the floor at the same time??
  • X is for X Ray: One of the more lighthearted numbers of the evening performed by the Vertebroads. These three talented ladies portrayed skeleton sisters waking up from their resting places for a little fun. The costumes and makeup were charming and spot on.
  • Y is for Yen: I’m not sure I understand “Yen”, but Nancy turned in a skillful performance with excellent pops and locks.

There were also a number of “In-Betweener” acts sprinkled throughout the show. Stands outs for me included Angelina, one of the younger performers who commanded the stage and had great hair and head tosses. Chad mesmerized us with his Buugeng – s-shaped, lighted props that were twirled all around his body. (Chad – sorry I don’t have the words to describe this. Buugeng really must be seen!) Aliyah and Gea charmed me with “If I Only Had a Goth”, a take on “If I Only Had a Brain”. Cristina was elegant performing with Thai nails. She had great stage presence, strong technique, and out of this world spins.

The closing was an extremely high energy performance by Holly and Special Guest (DiMaris Mojica). It was a fun final number after which the performers and audience swarmed the floor for an impromptu dance party. At this point, the show clocked in at 4 ½ hours. While very enjoyable, it was long, and Holly should consider trimming it the next time. (A “save the date” has already been posted for October 9, 2016).

Holly is truly amazing. She is a very giving person with boundless energy. And I mean boundless – she was in seven – SEVEN – numbers, and none were fluff. You could see her giving her all in each and every one of them. The audience was clearly behind her, and all the performers, as each act received tremendous applause. Kudos to all, and I look forward to next year’s peek into Holly’s Head!