The Playgoer: Press Release of the Day

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Press Release of the Day

As a Tom Waits fan, I don't know whether to be pleased or horrified by this new Guthrie studio show:

Warm Beer Cold Women, according to press notes, "lays out gritty truths like dirty laundry on the clothesline, with some rarely heard soliloquies laced in for his aficionados. For those unfamiliar with the bard of bum, the piece is a great introduction to some of Waits' best known works."

A Tom Waits jukebox musical. Never thought I'd live to see the day...


J. Kelly said...

Waits adapted his own album Franks Wild Years as a musical for Steppenwolf... So there - your hero was actually a pioneer of the "jukebox musical".

(And he's written music specifically for the theatre, too.)

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

I've always wondered what "Franks Wild Years" was like onstage. I can't find contemporary reviews of it. Anyone see it? And sure, Waits has written music for some Bob Wilson shows, but I'm a bit mixed on the results. To me "Nighthawks at the Diner" plays like the best cast album for a show that never existed; it doesn't get better than that, so I'm encouraged that the title of the Guthrie piece at least references that landmark record.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see "Frank's Wild Years," but Randy Arney was in it right before I had him for my first directing class at Columbia College Chicago. He diplomatically said something about how it was a great excuse for him to sit onstage and listen to wonderful Tom Waits songs. As I recall, the reviews at the time were not kind. I don't think the Chicago Reader archives go back that far or I'd look it up.


Anonymous said...

I might be willing to suspend judgement . . . but generally I find that the phrase "gritty truths" tends to indicate a certain level of crappiness. I think, in all honesty, it will have a lot to do with the performers and how well, as musicians, they connect to Waits' songs.

Playgoer said...

How glad I am that so many other Waits fans are out there to fill in my egregious gaps in this post. Of course there was Frank's Wild Years! Silly of me to neglect to mention.

Although I do believe it was NOT a "jukebox" compilation, but rather a wholly original piece, conceived by Waits and wife/collaborator Kathleen Brennan AS a theatre piece. The resulting album then is really a "concept album" based on the show.

(Of course, I haven't forgotten about his scores for the Robert Wilson pieces Black Rider, Alice, and Woyzeck--and those subsequent concept albums--either. Saw--and rather dug--all of them.)

Yes, I too would have killed to see Frank's Wild Years at Steppenwolf. No matter how much of a trainwreck it may have been--what a cool idea, eh? Commission one of the most dynamic, poetic rockers to compose a theatre piece around himself to perform in. I mean, Tom is way cooler than Duncan Sheik will ever be.

Oh, and as a reader wrote me privately, I agree that "9th & Hennepin" will make the perfect Act One curtain for this Minneapolis premiere.

Anonymous said...

Not a jukebox, but his music absolutely made Steppenwolf's Balm and Gilead that opened the Minetta Lane years back (well, that and Laurie Metcalf).