Anatomy Lesson

At Kitchen Dog, Hedwig proves size does matter; Flower Drum Song sounds lovely at Fair Park

The difference between this rock musical and all other shows claiming to be rock musicals, including Rocky Horror and Hair, is that Hedwig has both a good story line and a score packed with big, subversive, angry songs infused with the real spirit of rock. Trask's score for Hedwig is nasty, loud, funny, ironic, touching and memorable. There is more tragedy and grandeur in the book and score for Hedwig than in Rent, or in that granddaddy of all rock musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar. The rap on the Music Hall at Fair Park is always about the sound system. With most shows there, the over-amplified, over-miked sound comes out fuzzy, tinny or so badly balanced the audience is left guessing who's singing where and what they're singing about.

Miraculously, the sound is just right for the road tour production of Flower Drum Song, now winding up two weeks at Fair Park. Every word, every note is clear, and for once the fine pit orchestra doesn't threaten to drown out the chorus. Good thing, too, because the cast of this late-'50s musical about Asian immigrants in San Francisco is topnotch. With its new book by David Henry Hwang, the show seems fresh and relevant. The music remains some of the best in the Rodgers and Hammerstein ouevre.

Joey Steakley is so good as Hedwig, the audience will go anywhere he takes them.
Nicole Nelson
Joey Steakley is so good as Hedwig, the audience will go anywhere he takes them.

Details

continues at Kitchen Dog Theater through October 11. Call 214-953-1055. and continues at the Music Hall at Fair Park through September 14. Call 214-631-2787.


Another oldie but not so goodie, Sly Fox, by legendary comedy writer Larry Gelbart, is onstage at Theatre Three. Gelbart, famous for writing the M*A*S*H TV series, updated the play Volpone about a greedy miser pretending to die to extract more loot from his friends and relatives. Sly Fox feels creaky now, and at the matinee performance reviewed, the cast, led by Larry O'Dwyer doing a Charles Coburn turn as Foxwell J. Sly, didn't help matters by performing with Chekhovian lethargy. Comedy turns to mincemeat when the energy drags, and this bunch made entrances and exits like they were wearing cast-iron shoes. The urge to nod off was almost overwhelming. Perhaps I should have. Some snoring might have awakened the actors.
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