Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arts Reporting: NYT: Where Musicals Can Dare to be Different, April 9

Found on-line:

Scalpel poster www.brava.org

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Where Musicals Can Dare to Be Different


Published: April 9, 2010

For those who dismiss musicals as the theatrical equivalent of cheerleading, the Bay Area arts scene is demanding that they be taken seriously.

The new musical “Scalpel!” at the Brava! Center for the Arts has a gender-bending cast dressed in candy-colored women’s business suits, singing about the joys of liposuction against a backdrop of free-floating body parts. The combination of bunraku puppetry techniques and drag performance makes for an unlikely and unforgettable experience.

At the Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Girlfriend,” a new musical opening on Wednesday and based on the pop musician Matthew Sweet’s 1991 album of the same title, plays with our expectations about gender and sexuality by recounting a romance between two young men, accompanied live by a four-piece, all-woman rock band.

The Bay Area has established itself as a breeding ground for musicals that go on to find audiences elsewhere, but many of these shows also buck traditional notions of what constitutes a winning work for the stage. In the world of musicals, where producers tend to favor mass appeal over experimentation, the passion for — and success at — developing quirky work in the Bay Area is leading many people to re-evaluate their opinions of musicals, attracting new audiences to the genre.

Read more at New York Times on-line . . . .

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