Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Kind of Epidemic

Almost two years ago, one of my friends casually asked me if I wanted to see this show that someone she knew was working on for NYMF. She told me what it was called, but the title completely slipped my mind, and I showed up at the theater with no idea what exactly it was I was about to see. So I met up with my friend, we waited for the ligths to dim, and the next thing I knew, I was along for the ride that was Bedbugs!!! a musical by Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter.

So let me set the scene: the lights go dim and the next thing we know, we are treated to the vision of a young girl, sitting in her room listening to a performance of her favorite pop diva, Dionne Salone. And then, in true diva glory, Brian Charles Rooney emerged in a rather lovely 80s ensemble, giving a performance that would bring any ballad belting star to her knees.

Bedbugs!!! was an operatic, glam rock funhouse about a bedbug epidemic and one determined exterminator named Carly who ends up concocting a pesticide that turns tiny pests into mutant terrors. When the metal rock king of the bedbugs wants to make Carly his queen, Carly and her friends must put a stop to the madness. This all happens with an army of horny, androgenous insects, inappropriately mesmerizing dance numbers, and even a take home environmental message (complete with an appearance from Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring). Be sure to check out some music clips here.

Despite the fact that this type of musical is not normally my cup of tea, it's a show I think of every once in a while. I don't think I've seen anything quite so delightfully off the wall since then, or at least nothing that has made me smile as wide as this show did. I wish this show could have some kind of life beyond its NYMF production, but I haven't heard anything in particular since the festival.

I also have to say, though, that Paul Leschen's music in general is very addictive, a guilty pleasure for soaring 80s-esque numbers. I've been enjoying listening to the music on his myspace and letting myself sink into a silly stupor. While I know Paul has also had his hand in a Scissor Sisters album, I think his musical theatre writing skills are also apparent. He's also worked on Twist: May I Have Some More, a naughty, wicked version of Dickens' Oliver classic. And still, while completely campy and hysterically wild, Bedbugs!!! is an example of camp done hilariously right.

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