Review - Infernal Bridegroom Productions' "Soap Opera", Houston, TX

Date: November 20, 2002 1:51 PM
From: Chris Owens
Subject: A Soap Opera in Houston

Had the pleasure of attending the IBP (Infernal Bridegroom Productions) rock opera rendition of the Kinks' "A Soap Opera" at the Axiom in Houston last weekend. Wasn't sure what to expect since I had seen both "Preservation" and "Schoolboys in Disgrace" as originally performed by Ray and the Kinks in the mid-70's. Never experienced "A Soap Opera", however, since it was only performed in New York and London at that time. I'm happy to announce that seeing IBP's rendition of Ray's star/everyman tale was the next best thing to having seen the original. In every conceivable way they captured the spirit and essence of a 70's theatrical Kinks performance. The band played professionally yet were not too tightly controlled and Anthony Barilla improvised on lead guitar a la Dave Davies. It was raucous but somehow righteous and complemented the onstage acting of Cary Winscott (whose lanky frame and mop top reminded one of mid-70's Ray) whose onstage portrayal of the Starmaker!

Norman was over the top but enthused and vibrant. Tamarie Cooper was picture perfect as Norman's put-upon wife and the female backup singers rounded out the aural segment just perfectly. The cast patched together the loosely-knit plot with dialogue taken from old Kinks scripts of the shows and ad-libbed lines as well. Seeing it as a whole it made much more sense to me than merely hearing the album all these years without any visuals. (Their version had Norman on a drunk seeking his "Holiday Romance" in back alleyways "Underneath the Neon Sign"--all in one day rather than on a week-long vacation.) It was funny, silly, witty, dramatic and poignant, especially when the Starmaker realizes he is just an ordinary man, and ended on an up note with the band and whole ensemble rocking out to "You Can't Stop the Music" and encouraging the audience to join them onstage. I left feeling energized as if I'd just seen a top-notch Kinks performance, and that is very high praise indeed!

The show runs for two more weekends (November 22/23 and 29/30) and if you're anywhere near Houston then, hightail it over to the Axiom Theatre and check out the show. God Save the Kinks, and the IBP!