By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
While The Who's Tommy has landed firmly in the jazz hands of community theaters across the country, that other infamous concept-album-cum-stoner-film, Pink Floyd--The Wall, doesn't get much stage time. That's not surprising, really. The 1982 Roger Waters/Alan Parker film is essentially a visual riff, the story of a spoiled rock star intercut with blasts of carnage and freaky-erotic cartoons. Not many theater companies mount such a glorious mess.
Until now. This Saturday and Sunday, Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth presents a stage version of The Wall,starring actors from the Box Theater along with Bricks in the Wall, a Pink Floyd cover band.
"Have you ever heard Bricks in the Wall?" asks Wesley Hathaway, who runs the Ridglea with her husband, Richard Van Zandt. "Oh, they're amazing. If you close your eyes, you'd swear it was Floyd." She should know. For years, she and Van Zandt ran a Pink Floyd laser show, and they still book Floyd tributes at the Ridglea. None, however, as wildly ambitious as this one.
"This isn't gonna be some thrown-together community theater affair," says Travis Satterfield, lead singer and guitarist for Bricks in the Wall. "It's something that [Roger] Waters would have done back then if he could have." Pink Floyd did perform The Wall in the early '80s, but the production proved too unwieldy. The shows have become one of those wish-you-were-there experiences Floyd fans blog about, but few have the chutzpah to actually stage it themselves. Michael Johnson directs the show, in which actors will portray the action as the band plays, sometimes behind an actual brick wall. (Well, it's made of cardboard boxes. Shh, don't tell.) Since The Wall contains such inexplicable jaw-droppers as a cartoon character that speaks out of his own asshole, we should mention that the show will use video in parts, but Satterfield raves about what the theater company has actually created for the production. One of the costumes is a 20-foot worm. It fits three people.
Anxious to get a taste of this rather unprecedented show, I visited a Bricks in the Wall rehearsal a few weeks ago. Although the band works hard to mimic the stirring space-rock of its idols, it makes no such attempt to look the part. The half-dozen middle-aged guys loafed around the stage wearing casual khakis and baseball caps, as their wives and children looked on from couches in the corner. The kids are some of the two dozen children acting the production as schoolkids and soldiers. When I ask about some teen volunteers from the Weatherford High Drama Department, one woman tells me, "Oh, yes. They're fascists."
The afternoon run-through was a cozy family affair, with kids running around, filching Coke money from their mothers' purses, flopping on the couch, bored.
"Do you like this music?" I asked one teen, tapping his fingers in time.
"Oh, yeah," the kid responded immediately. "Of course."
With her young daughter curled up at her side, the woman beside me explained her children's affection for The Wall. "I used to listen to Pink Floyd when I was pregnant," she says. "That and the mellow parts of Yes."
Huh. And here I've spent a good decade presuming you had to be stoned to love The Wall.
"Being stoned has nothing to do with it," Satterfield tells me later.
Says Hathaway: "My opinion is that it was just an amazing film. It was a social commentary on what was wrong with education, on accepting other people."
Sure. But isn't it better when you're stoned?
"I have never smoked marijuana in my entire life," she says. "And I love The Wall."
The Wall will be performed at Ridglea Theater on May 15 at 9 p.m. and on May 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15.
He looked up and winked. "Well, I love you, too, darlin'."