By Steven Robert Allen
There's more to musicals than the all-too-familiar over-homogenized triteness of Oklahoma! and My Fair Lady. In honor of Ana Chavira, a frequent Musical Theatre Southwest (MTS) performer and contributor, MTS recently opened its brand spanking new Ana Chavira Theatre in the Frank A. Peloso Performing Arts Center, which also houses the much larger Hiland Theatre. The purpose of this intimate 85-seat theater is to provide a new and appropriate venue to stage alternative musicals for Albuquerque audiences.
The Ana Chavira Theatre is currently running Berlin to Broadway: The Music of Kurt Weill, which has so far garnered a very warm response from crowds. Weill, the composer of exquisite experimental musicals like The Three Penny Opera, was one of the most creative and versatile music makers of the first half of the 20th century. MTS' ode to this musical master runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 11.
Hal Simons, MTS' artistic director, is extremely excited about Bat Boy, which will open on May 7. With music by Laurence O'Keefe and story and book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming, Bat Boy is based on the life of the famous freak celebrity from everyone's favorite supermarket smut rag, the Weekly World News. (According to Simons, all Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Bat Boy, since he recently assisted our nation in capturing Saddam Hussein.)
After that, When Pigs Fly, a musical by Dick Gallagher and Mark Waldrop, featuring the same cast that performed it at the Vortex Theatre last year, will hit the Chavira stage. When Pigs Fly is the late Howard Crabtree's vaguely autobiographical musical about the costume designer's heroic aspiration to achieve success in the theater world. Simons, who had nothing to do with the Vortex production, says that show was one of the best musicals he's ever seen in Albuquerque. When Pigs Fly opens on June 4.
Anyone with a lust for catchy songs and a sweet tooth for dramatic adventure should keep an eye on the Chavira Theatre's schedule. Better yet, call 262-9301 to order tickets today.
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