Fri 12/8 & Sat 12/9 @ 9PM
A century ago vaudeville was at its height of popularity, featuring a wide array of entertainers showing off their vocal, comedic and acrobatic talents. Today, Cleveland Heights residents Jason and Danielle Tilk are continuing that grassroots spirit as musical neo-vaudeville duo Pinch and Squeal.
The couple, along with a slew of carnivalesque performers, will performing as Wizbang Fri 12/8 and Sat 12/9 at the Cleveland Public Theatre. CoolCleveland talked to Jason about the unique performance group and the upcoming show.
CoolCleveland: Pinch and Squeal, what a great name. What is the act?
Jason Tilk: We are a neo-vaudeville duo. I play the accordion. Danielle plays the banjulele. We sing songs you wish you didn’t know and tell you jokes you wish you didn’t laugh at. Then we do magic. We’ve been performing together for probably eight years. In our time as a duo, we’ve traveled from Brooklyn to Dubuque meeting some amazing performers — world-champion jugglers, crazy performance artists, sideshow characters, acrobats. That inspired us in 2013 to start to put on our own variety shows under the name Wizbang.
CC: Wow, another great name. What can we expect from the upcoming “Massive Holiday Shows” at Cleveland Public Theatre?”
JT: We are pulling out all of the stops. We’ve got a huge cast this time around. We’ve got multiple acrobats, we have live performances, we’ve added a small band to the show to supply even more rich music content for a couple of the acts. Returning stars will be our amazing performance artist out of Detroit and our world champion juggler out of Grand Rapids. Expect comedy, mayhem. Really a show that evolves around you, over you, even sometimes in your lap.
CC: How did you come up with Pinch and Squeal?
JT: It’s funny. The first time we performed together, Danielle sang Melanie’s “Brand New Key” and I played accordion. We told two one-liner jokes in a little five-minute performance. We were introduced as like Danielle and Jason. And after we did our thing, people were like, “You guys are hilarious.” That was awesome. The next morning, we were having coffee, and I’m like we should call ourselves Pinch and Squeal. A little innuendo there.
CC: So who’s who?
JT: I am Pinch, she’s Squeal.
CC: So do you pinch and does Danielle squeal?
JT: I do, indeed, and she does.
CC: Did I read where Pinch and Squeal have their own tent?
JT: We do. It’s the sort of “build it and they will come” mentality. We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and got a grant from Ingenuity Fest in 2013 to build our pop-up theater. It’s basically two party tents that hook together. Inside of that is a full-fledged little mini-theater with chairs, velvet curtains, stage lights, a sound system, a traveling curtain and a little stage. We just basically branded all of our events Wizbang no matter where they are. When it’s a tent, we say that’s it’s the Wizbang Theatre tent. Now, in the winter months, we hop around from theater venue to theater venue. So we’ve hooked up with Cleveland Public Theater. We also have another run coming up in February. It’s a nice collaboration.
CC: What kind of comments do you hear from audiences about Wizbang?
JT: You get some frank candid comments about like, “I don’t know what I just saw, but I want more.” Or “I was smiling so much my face hurt.” People love the sort of rapid-fire-ness of it. The fact it’s always an evolving show and for five minutes you are getting this amazing LED flow hula hoop artist performing and then the next minute you’re getting a comedy juggling act or a song from an amazing local singer that’s dressed in all ’80s like jazzercise gear and dragging people up on stage to dance with her.
CC: Overall, it seems like Pinch and Squeal feature a night of highly-entertaining, sometimes naughty, fun.
JT: Yeah, without a doubt. It’s a nonstop joy ride.