• Theater Review: Logger’s big heart kills P.C.
    By Jim Lowe
    Staff Writer | December 15,2013
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    Jim Lowe / Staff photo

    Rusty DeWees and saxophonist Zach Trepanier, a high school student from West Rutland, perform in “The Logger’s Holiday Variety Show 2013.”
    P.C. is dead. Political correctness died an ugly — and hilarious — death Friday at the hands of Rusty DeWees in his alter-ego as The Logger.

    It was at “The Logger’s Holiday Variety Show 2013” at South Burlington High School that the Stowe comedian and entertainer broke virtually every taboo in the book — to a most appreciative audience from teens to seniors.

    Joined by some particularly fine Vermont musicians, DeWees made this fast-paced variety show the best annual “Logger” holiday show yet. The show moves to Stowe next, Dec. 27 and 28 at Stowe High School, and Dec. 31 at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, then on to Rutland’s Paramount Theatre Jan. 17-18 (postponed from Nov. 29-30 due to DeWees’ laryngitis).

    DeWees has been one of Vermont’s most popular entertainers since starring in Vermont Repertory Theater’s touring production of David Budbill’s “Judevine.” He turned his character of the French-Canadian logger Antoine, the foul-mouthed saint, into a comic character.

    Over the years, DeWees developed the character and a variety show around him, as well as a merchandising business.

    As a comedian, DeWees has always had the ability to tell the most offensive jokes and, because of his warm heart and glee at pushing his audience just a tad, ends up offending nearly no one.

    In this new show, he takes that a step further, skewering just about everyone: Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Evangelical Christians; gays, lesbians and straights; sex and lack of; Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals; Vermonters and flatlanders … even nursing homes and their inhabitants.

    And it’s just wonderful. Because The Logger loves them all.

    DeWees not only writes his own material, he delivers it with passion, speed and glee. Friday’s performance was about the tightest likely heard from a standup comedian anywhere. And if a joke falls flat, he either moves quickly to the next —– or gives the audience hell for not responding as it should.

    DeWees is also an accomplished musician, a fine drummer, a passable guitarist and an excellent theater singer — and brings on as collaborators even better musicians.

    New this year is Newbury fiddler Patrick Ross, who proved to be much more. Not only did he deliver fast-paced traditional fiddling with flair, he used a classical violin technique to accompany the others, from country to hip-hop to opera.

    Indicative of DeWees’ support of youth, singer Keeghan Nolan, who had been on the show as a teen, returned to perform original country songs with her deep sultry mezzo.

    Zach Trepanier, a West Rutland high school student, proved a fine saxophonist, as well as a good sport as butt to The Logger’s jokes.

    Rounding out the music section was a veteran of the show, guitarist and singer Tracy Lord, who proved a consummate pro.

    Audience participation is always the wild card in Logger shows — participants take a big chance on being embarrassed. Joanne Barton, a high school senior from St. Albans, proved a brave soul and joined DeWees’ Uncle Furmon for a reading of a Cajun version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

    Uncle Furmon even aimed a very un-P.C. barb at the girls of St. Albans. Instead of being offended, Barton joined the audience in hysterical laughter. For it’s impossible to be offended or angry at the big heart of The Logger.

    ‘The Logger’

    Rusty DeWees’ ‘The Logger’s Holiday Variety Show 2013’ performances include:

    — Friday-Saturday, Dec. 27-28: Stowe — $25, Stowe High School, 8 p.m. , 888-8838, www.thelogger.com.

    — Tuesday, Dec. 31: Stowe — starting at $25, Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m., 760-4634, www.sprucepeakarts.org.

    — Friday-Saturday, Jan. 17-18: Rutland — $25, Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., 8 p.m., 755-0570, www.paramountvt.org.
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