Glam-Rock Musicals Studio 2ndStage Should Produce Next
As is just about theatrical custom in this town, The Washington Post got the first pass at StudioTheatre's 2012-2013 season announcement, which begins Sept. 5 with an adaptation of Ralph Ellison's classic novel of race, racism, politics, and group and individual identity, Invisible Man. Also on the Studio slate: The Aliens by Annie Baker, The Motherfucker With the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard, and a fifth play that's TBA. The season's Studio Lab production—meaning, the work is new and the staging is stripped down—is Dirt by Bryony Lavery. And Studio's fourth-floor 2ndStage will mount Contractions by Mike Bartlett as well as Pas de Deux: Plays from New Zealand and Canada, which pairs in repertory two movement-heavy works, Gary Henderson's Skin Tight and Daniel MacIvor's 2-2 Tango.
Not pointed out in Postie Jessica Goldstein's Backstage column this morning: 2ndStage is capping off its season with a work sure to bring in audiences slightly outside Studio's constituency, Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whether the theater will permit the throwing of rice and the heckling of actors is unclear, but it's interesting that this will mark the fourth year in a row that 2ndStage has included a glammed-out (though not necessarily glam-rock) rock 'n' roll musical in its lineup. 2009-2010 had the Tony-winning Passing Strange; 2010-2011 had the Andy Warhol trip Pop!; and the current season will end with Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers' power-emo musical about the seventh president of the United States.
First things first, Studio 2ndStage: For the love of Bowie, do not stage Rock of Ages. Or We Will Rock You. Don't do Hedwig, either.
The company may be threatening to exhaust the supply of A-list glam musicals for future seasons, but there are some options remaining. Rocky Horror, certainly, is best-known for its cult film adaptation, and the movies aren't a bad place to look. Maybe this time next year, you'll read that one of the following films is coming to Studio 2ndStage*:
Velvet Goldmine, 1998: Bonus! D.C. post-hardcore dudes Shudder to Think wrote a handful of the film's songs.
The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976: OK, this is not a musical. And a contractual entanglement kept star David Bowie from writing music for the film, while a separate dispute meant the pop soundtrack never got a commercial release. Time is ripe for someone to write a brand new set of songs.
The Labyrinth, 1986: A musical for which Bowie actually did provide some songs, as well as a performance as a goblin king named Jareth. Instead of Hensonian puppets, let director Natsu Onoda Power, the mind behind the visual astonishments of Astro Boy and the God of Comics, do whatever she wants.
*But seriously, maybe it's time for D.C. theaters to lay off the rock-musical pedal for a while. At least no one's invented the brostep musical yet.