Monday, July 18, 2016

I Feel Like a $3 Shirt

I have a crush on a new theater collective and I'm being really obvious about it.

How obvious? Four days after I saw Nu Puppis' deconstruction of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," I wanted to see it all over again, to see if my response had been solely a first time thing or if I'd still be laughing (or grimacing) throughout.


Because my delight in this production is so great, I had to bring a like-minded friend along, hopefully to experience the same jambalya of reactions I'd had. We met at my house and walked to Saison for fried chicken night first.

You don't approach this kind of ritualistic millennial mocking without a full belly.

Even though it had been months since I'd made it there on a Sunday night and despite a full reservation list, we were lucky enough to slide into the bar with no problem. My thirst after a busy day was quenched with a rosy combination of grapefruit juice, passionfruit juice and Cheerwine and arrived in a funky 60s-looking glass with palm trees adorning it.

Today's sides were redskin potato salad and squash casserole with still-recognizable squash in it, so neither cooked to death nor buried under too much cheese, but as I told our server, it didn't matter what the sides had been, my order wasn't changing.

Quarter chicken dark meat, washed down with my fruity libation. If only all Sunday suppers were so satisfying.

The plan was to arrive early enough at Firehouse to ensure getting tickets, a smart move given how quickly the room filled. Unlike with "American Idiot" when we were instructed to use our phones, tonight we were told to turn them off because there was no such thing in the '50s when it was first written, nor even during the 80s when it became a play.

So it just wouldn't be right. "We don't want to open up some weird wormhole," artistic director Bassin informed us. No, we don't.

Next thing you know, Max Erlich was belting out "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" and I was thrown back into the Oregon Territory circa Hollywood 1954. It was glorious.

Everything I'd been smitten with last week was just as (choose one or many) funny, irreverent, off-color, snarky, hysterical, smart-assed, well-rehearsed, culturally referenced, corny, stirring and memorably performed as the first night.

You haven't lived in the theater until you've watched a gaggle of 20-somethings show off their stage fighting skills or stuff their faces with microwave pancakes.

Seeing it a second time showed me where the ad-libs were and how different they were from night to night. The twenty actors were just as nimble and their voices harmonized even more beautifully from tonight's better seats. The actors' posturing and asides were every bit as side-splittingly funny.

Best of all, my friend reacted precisely as I'd hoped, doubled over laughing, grimacing at the sound of fist fights and gasping in amazement at some of the stuff that came out of their mouths, the sly side looks and creepy innuendo. In awe of young bodies springing, jumping and arching, oblivious to concrete and metal.

Bottom line: the kids are putting on a show capable of bursting every musical theater notion you might have in your pretty little head.

Get over it. If this is the direction Richmond theater is taking, it's a wonderful, wonderful day.

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