Theater review | Thru Sept. 21 Theatre on the Square opened its 15th season - one devoted to reprisals of previous shows - with the Wagner send-up Das Barbecu!, first staged by TOTS in 1997. If you aren"t familiar with Wagner"s Ring Cycle, no worries. This clever musical has enough humor in it to keep even those ignorant of the opera artform entertained. How can you go wrong with a show that includes a song about guacamole being the key to marital bliss?
Chad Brown and Vonda Fuhrman in TOTS" new production of "Das Barbecu!"
The plot involves an elusive gold ring, a love quadrangle and a host of confusing family ties. Don"t try to keep them straight - this is a combination of opera and Texas, so some incest is bound to pop up. As it is with many musicals, the plot takes second chair to the music itself, anyway, which can run from deliriously comic to poignant. The five cast members each get a main character, as well as double-duty in various minor parts. All exhibited strong voices, but special note must be made of Kris Clayton, who was so good in last year"s When Pigs Fly at TOTS, and Heather Ault, last seen onstage at TOTS in Rescue and Recovery. Clayton has a voice that could break anyone"s heart, and it meshed beautifully with Ault"s sweet and unfaltering voice. Chad Brown"s deep bass was a welcome surprise. He and Clayton had a great duet as arch enemies, and Brown performed some nice solo work. At times, though, he didn"t seem entirely confident. Brown also took on the caricature role of Gunther, who initially reminded me of an overgrown Muppet. (That"s a compliment.) The cast is completed by Vonda Fuhrman and Katie Thompson, both of whom gave good performances, especially Fuhrman, who was called on to change personas most often. The two have a catty wedding-guest scene that is fabulous, and Thompson gets the spotlight in a darling song about a little house. Overall, though, the show felt somewhat uneven. It wasn"t until the second half that I felt a little oomph. Some numbers clicked, while others seemed flat, such as "Hog Tie Your Man." Hopefully, with more performances, these things will work themselves out. Lightning fast costume changes, however, were impressive. Thompson"s bridal outfit, described by Fuhrman as what Annie Oakley would wear to her First Communion, was wonderfully outrageous. Das Barbecu! continues through Sept. 21, Fridays-Sundays. Call 637-8085 for tickets, $20 for adults.