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Paradise by the spotlights: Astoria’s Steven Ryan gives Meat Loaf the cabaret treatment

By Morgan Rousseau

Their cabaret is a humorous spoof of Meat Loaf himself, interlaced with his music and following a storyline about a rock star wanna-be in search of love. Ryan plays the part of “Pot Roast” and Campanaro takes on the part of “Karla Velveeta,” his love interest. Campanaro's character mirrors Meatloaf's real-life duet partner, Karla DeVito.However, this character is only one of several Campanaro acts out in the hour-long performance. After many quick costume changes backstage, Campanaro takes on the persona of a drunken biker chick, a Liza Minnelli-esque tap dancer and a needy housewife, all of whom steal the eye of the love-hungry Pot Roast, but not the heart. That he saves for Velveeta.Campanaro and Ryan met in a concert version of the Yuri Kapralov's 1974 Alphabet City memoir “Once There Was A Village,” in which both performers were singers. Campanaro also worked with Ryan in “The Madonna Whore,” an Off Off Broadway production she also starred in. “Sue and I are very creative together. There is always something going on with the two of us,” Ryan said.In “Anything for Love,” their duets are backed by live piano from musician Robby Stamper, who does cabarets and open microphones in New York, and artistic direction from Brian Foley. The performance starts off with Pot Roast making his way through the crowd and onto the stage, where he joins Velveeta, his back-up singer. The show keeps viewers amused with several raunchy jokes, lively stage presence and a variety of selections from Meat Loaf's hits, such as “It's All Coming Back To Me Now,” “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” “I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)” and “I'd Lie For You (And That's The Truth).”Ryan said they picked up pianist Stamper, who at the time was a friend of Campanaro's, because he has a great sense of rock 'n' roll, a feature that he said “is rare for cabaret pianists, because they're mostly only into classics and show tunes. [Stamper] rocks it.”The decision to do a cabaret featuring Meat Loaf came about because Ryan had a strong affinity for his music. Ryan described himself as “kind of a bigger guy” with a voice “not as good as [Meatloaf's] was in the 1970s but definitely better than it is now,” which makes his depiction as the leather-wearing rocker all the more believable. Ryan is a puppeteer at the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater in Manhattan, and was also the assistant producer of a weekly television show on BBC World called “Talking Movies.” He realized he wanted to parlay his talents into musical theater after attending a performance of Broadway's “Beauty and the Beast” in his college years.Campanaro is best known for her role as Tina in the Off-Broadway staple “Tony and Tina's Wedding” when it was brought to the Edison Hotel in Times Square. She also directed and performed in the Colin Quinn-produced “All Dolled Up” at the Acorn Theatre. A vivacious singer and entertainer, she has held down a career performing in various New York City nightclubs, where lately she has been seen performing as “Lavnia Draper,” the drunken Broadway diva character she has created. She has also performed cabaret at The Duplex for years. “Anything For Love” is still in its early stages, with only three performances so far, but the artists behind it have plans to solidify the storyline and the show. Any new dates have yet to be posted, but for upcoming announcements visit www.theduplex.com and www.stevenryan.net.

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