note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
I once witnessed a six hour "Gotterdammerung" at The Met, in which the Rhine-Maidens actually performed synchronized swimming. I can attest that "Das Barbecu" achieves The ring of Truth. Jim Luigs and Scott Warrender's spoof of The Ring Cycle (four operas which Wagner took twenty-six years to write) follows the basics of Norse legend --- although a good portions of "Die Walkure" and "Siegfried" are neglected. After all, there are only so many twists and turns you can absorb in one sitting.
"Das Barbecu" is irreverent, naughty, silly as all get out, and a wee bit long at almost three hours. (Of course, that's nothing in Wagnerian terms!) It's set in Texas, but the meat of this c&w musical is actually tuna. Its cowboy characters could have stepped right out of a show called "Greater Tuna". Like the two "Tuna" guys, five actor/singers play three dozen wacky characters here, some of them deliciously cross-dressed (The Norns are my faves!), and all of whom are over the top.
The songs are clever, with inventive rhymes (A bride's lament for example that she's a "fool in too much tulle"), but the draw of this hoedown is Rick Lombardo's crackerjack cast. Each character is a comic delight, and music director Steve Bergman gets some first rate singing from the ensemble. The heroics, though, go on out of sight --- backstage, where costume coordinator Eileen Bouvier and a super-human crew get the singers in and out of Eduardo Sicango's gorgeous costumes in nano-seconds.
Tommy Day Carey is a handsome Siegfried, a sexy short-skirted Norn (with shapely legs) and a hilarious old coot a la Billy Bob Thornton. Chip Phillips is three virile god Wotan, but his off the wall narcoleptic half-dwarf stops the show cold. Bridget Brady is a gaudy bride, a formidable mistress, and one tall Valkyrie. Amy White is a sweet and innocent Brunnhilde (Who knew Brunnhilde was so adorable?), as well as sundry other characters. White and Carey have a touching love duet, but their zanier other characters have more fun. Kathy St. George is a spunky wife, a creaky old lady, and many more characters, but she steals the show in a little number (with Carey and Brady) called "Guacamole".
I have only one beef with "Das Barbecu: It's set in Texas, but they left out Brunnhilde's horse!