Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Speeding Motorcycle @ Rudyards

A little more than a week ago, the director of our show was approached about performing selections from Speeding Motorcycle on Memorial Day during an all day event that was to be held in the parking lot of Rudyard's. Since most of the cast and crew have beds there, it was pretty much a given that we would participate. And with fond memories from our 2003 performance of the Kinks rock opera Soap Opera at the very same venue as our guide, we all jumped at the invitation.
This performance was going to be quite a bit different, though. With Soap Opera, we had transported virtually the entire performance (props, set, costumes) to the upstairs stage and did the entire show top to bottom for a sold out audience. For this performance we would be just one part of a larger rock show and didn't get any billing or advertising to announce our presence. The odds seemed stacked against us, but that has never stopped us before and certainly wouldn't stop us this time. And while we don't necessarily thrive on that kind of energy, we've never been ones to back down from a new adventure. Up, up, and away!
Over the course of several hours, we all gathered at the bar and prepared ourselves for the great unknown. Take in mind we were about to face a crowd that had been drinking for the better part of the day and, because of the lack of advertising, had no idea what was gonna happen when more than a dozen (overly excited) theater fags jumped onstage to entertain them during the waning hours of the evening. It didn't help that the R&B explosion known as The Rehabilliteens(my favorite band) would have the stage just prior to our little show.
I managed to convince the director that having the three lead men wear our costumes (complete with fleshy head gear), while the rest of the cast was in street clothing, was just going to confuse and possibly anger the unsuspecting crowd. Thankfully, he agreed and the costumes were put back in the bags they came in. Whew. That was close.
I could see apprehension on a number of cast members faces, as the time for us to go on slowly got closer. One of the leads, Kyle, looked down right pale. I saw him standing by one of the pool tables and I thought he might throw up on it at any given moment. Thankfully, for us, he did not. Tensions among the cast and band grew even higher when it took more than a half hour for us to set up and get the trolling soundman to prepare the microphones and stage mix. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.....
Finally, the time came and we set about our way. The surprised looks on their faces as we started a quadraphonic chant of, "Funeral home. Funeral home. Going to the funeral home." was a moment of unexpected pleasure for me. These cats had no idea what was about to hit them. And believe it or not, I think we won them over before too long. The band was simply on fire. And our rapid fire execution of jumping from one song to the next, never gave them enough time to think about what was happening. It most certainly didn't hurt that we had a cast and group of well-wishers of nearly 2 dozen strong to act as our cheering section throughout the proceedings. We must have looked like a rock-n-roll Up With People.
Like I said, the band was in top form and by far our strongest asset of the evening. Other highlights, for me, included blistering versions of "Rock-n-Roll EGA", "Rock This Town", and "Livin' Life"(if I do say so myself). Normally, during the theatrical run, I try to handled some of the vocal performances with a little more finesse than were presented here. But this was a rock show and I treated it as such. Stuff it in their ear and down their throats. Ahhhh, just what the doctor ordered.
My favorite song of the night was when a dozen cast members got on stage to sing a near acapella rendition (and all churched out) choral version of "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievances". And I truly loved "True Grief" as performed by Tony and band. During that song, a righteous saxophone solo smoothly sailed out of the P.A. and it was pure Bleeding Gums Murphy magic at its best.

W came. We saw. We rocked.
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iPod Song Of The Day: Satellite Of You a b-side from the Flaming Lips


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