I was enjoying my first martini when a dapper fellow propping up the bar glanced over. “Where was the last place I saw you? Istanbul?” he murmured around a bobbing toothpick. I demurred that I hadn’t been to Turkey since that unfortunate business with the helicopter and the bag of ferrets. “Ah, yes,” he agreed. “Remember what you once told me? If you take the shot and miss, you have to live with it.” I didn’t recall imparting such wisdom, but let it pass. “Didn’t you have a place in Venice,” he continued. “Nice old palazzo on the Grand Canal?” “Indeed,” I replied, “but I was forced to blow it up due to an unforeseen quick getaway.” At that point, my interlocutor slipped a wireless microphone from his dinner jacket and busied himself with a cover of “You Know My Name,” also known as the credit music for 2006’s Casino Royale.
That’s as close as I’ll ever get to having cocktail chatter with James Bond—or, rather, a cabaret spoof of Bond. I’d been talking with Barry Cade (P.J. Griffith), a secret-agent crooner who’s more Seann William Scott than Sean Connery, with a British accent and an eye for the ladies. Those would include cold-blooded chanteuse Anna Sassin (Grace Stockdale) and Russian femme fatale Moana Lott (Amy G). Griffith, Stockdale, and G are the secret weapons behind Shaken Not Stirred, a stylish and sexy lampoon of all things 007.
The interactive show was coconceived by Damien Gray and Peter McCabe as an audience-interactive attraction for James Bond fans who appreciate Austin Powers–type yuks on the side. At the Roxy Hotel’s cellar bar, the Django, audience members sit at cabaret tables sipping cocktails and soaking in the Mad Men retro vibe, while also savoring satirical swipes at the machismo and sexism that undergirds the Bond franchise (the program is called Goldenballs, for Pete’s sake). Burlesque-y “Romanova Dancers” work the room; spectators get cajoled in competitions; and Amy G performs one of her signature acts—vaginal kazoo playing (of Monty Norman’s famous Bond theme, naturally). Don’t forget running gags about Russian surveillance and world domination: Some things never change.
The only things sacred (more or less) are the songs. We hear 16 of them over the 90-minute show, with several spliced into clever medleys (“Thunderball,” “Nobody Does It Better,” and “For Your Eyes Only” for a sexy trio). The set list affords a neat trip through changing styles in late-20th- and early-21st-century pop, from Shirley Bassey to Paul McCartney and Adele (not such a huge leap in evolution, after all). A small jazz combo (the snappy arrangements are by Andy Peterson) expertly supports the singers.
The Bond song is in a class all its own: sometimes sexy, vaguely sleazy, overblown, and often nonsensical (what or where is “Skyfall,” exactly?). Still, many in the audience—this writer included—will have a vivid memory of when they saw their first Bond movie, and the naked-girls-and-guns opening credit sequence is probably seared into our brains. It all seems so adult, sophisticated, and forbidden. Yes, in hindsight, it also seems a bit silly—but can’t we have both?
P.S. For the martini drinker: If you take it crisp and dry, order it classic with your preferred gin. The Django house martini is pleasant enough but has a slight fruitiness (thanks to an added orange aromatic) that will be anathema to the martini purist—and doesn’t go with olives. Shaken or stirred? That’s up to you.
Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond
The Django at the Roxy Hotel
2 Sixth Avenue (at Church Street), Tribeca
Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Through Sunday, November 19
$49 (table seating); $69 (VIP table with champagne)
Get in touch with our experience advisers to plan a night even 007 would approve of.