What is it about The Wizard of Oz that drives so many creative types to reinterpret L. Frank Baum's classic fable into something "fresh" and "new"? First, it was Judy Garland's star vehicle on film; then, Broadway's innovative The Wiz, followed by a lame film version of the stage show; then, David Lynch's twisted retelling in Wild at Heart. Perhaps bastardization will replace imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, and the next homage could be a music video wherein Lil' Kim is attacked by flying monkeys and a house falls on Jennifer Lopez.
Along those lines, a tiny troupe of young women just barely out of the drama department at Georgetown's Southwestern University is premiering Bitch Stole My Ruby Red Slippers! at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary. The three Dallas performances mark the Viva La Vulva theater company's first offering of the production outside of Austin. Bitch explores the traditional theme of the Baum-inspired quest for basic needs--brains, heart, courage--with a women's-issues subtext. There may be "no place like home," unless you have to clean it and cook in it; so, this interpretation has Dorothy hitting the yellow bricks in search of the kind of success that can only come from a record deal.
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Cast member April Gibson says Bitch incorporates pop tarts in most of the women's roles. "We imagined Britney Spears as the Wicked Witch of the West," she says, "and Baby Spice is the Good Witch of the North, for comic relief." In its musical version, Viva La Vulva players wrote new lyrics to "If I Only Had a Brain," Gibson says, and included Broadway and pop tunes to contemporize the classic. She says there are surprise parodies of other pop divas in the show as well as "biting humor and subversion." Gibson and fellow Vulvans Natalie Stanco, Trista Wyly, Heather Smith and Meghan Williams share writing, directing and performing duties.