Revelers eat Tastykake at pre-Bastille Day fest

Mary Tuomanen played Napoleon and John Jarboe a hirsute Edith Piaf in the Bearded Ladies Cabaret Company's "The Entire French Revolution in Just One Hour."
Mary Tuomanen played Napoleon and John Jarboe a hirsute Edith Piaf in the Bearded Ladies Cabaret Company's "The Entire French Revolution in Just One Hour." (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 15, 2014

French flags and biting satire flew over Philadelphia's Fairmount Avenue on Saturday, and thousands of Butterscotch Krimpets rained down from the ramparts of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Several thousand people gathered in front of the historic prison to watch a brisk and fanciful musical retelling of the story of the French Revolution to celebrate Bastille Day - July 14, 1789 - which marked the beginning of the revolution that ended the reign of Louis XVI.

"If the people have no bread, I say, 'Let them eat cake!' " Marie Antoinette, portrayed by actress Terry McNally, shouted as 3,000 Tastykakes were tossed to the cheering crowd in front of the prison at 20th and Fairmount.

The free event was the 20th annual Bastille Day celebration hosted by the prison. It featured The Entire French Revolution in Just One Hour.

The musical stage play covered the revolution from the storming of the Bastille, a prison and armory and symbol of repression, to the beheading of Marie Antoinette, and poked fun at such issues as the city's financially troubled schools, gay marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision.

The play, performed by the Bearded Ladiesla Cabaret Company, was narrated by John Jarboe as Edith Piaf, wearing a tight black dress and heels.

Piaf led the crowd in a chant of "No more wealth gap" and referred to the VIP section of the audience as the "bourgeoisie section." "They're the enemy!" Piaf shouted.

Michele Frederick, of Newark, Del., who attended the event with her husband, David Negron, noshed on a Tastykake in her front-row seat.

"This is awesome," Frederick said. "It's our first time here and it was great," she said of the performance.

Kaprice Gettemy and Elizabeth Bartheld came from Washington, dressed for the occasion in pink Marie Antoinette wigs.

"I thought it would be cute to do it in pink instead of white to give it a little edge," Gettemy said. "We wanted to dress to the nines."


vclark@phillynews.com215-854-5717

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