visitorium

A Grievously Good Legend

In Theatre on September 29, 2010 at 3:24 am

Falling off my game here…I’ve had a show to review for days now, but nothing.  It MIGHT have something to do with the fact I just got my computer re-kanoodled or whatever, and everything works spiffy-shiny rocketship once again.  Basically, I can download stuff again, and man, am I ever abusing the privilege.  Still, where the hell else am I supposed to watch seasons three and four of MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE?

Comedy gold like this doesn't grow on trees, my friends.

But I’m starting to feel a little slackerific, and I’ll be too busy with studenting and volunteering the next couple of days to do this, so I’m sitting myself down at the keyboard and getting my house in order, so to speak.  Now all I have to do is remember back, way back, to those halcyon days of…this past Saturday.  Hey, if you had seen the state I got myself into SUNDAY night, you’d know this is no mean feat for me.  Oy.

Anyways, ON said Saturday night, the 25th, I had me a date with the NAC’s 4th Stage (not a DATE-date, you understand…I was on my lonesome, which we all agree is better for everyone).  Managed to miss some rain and got into line for the sold-out show of GRIEVOUS ANGEL: THE LEGEND OF GRAM PARSONS. The brainchild of one Michael Bate, ANGEL tells, well, the legend of Gram Parsons, obviously…which is fine, except as I walked into the theatre it occurred to me that I had no idea who, in fact, that even WAS.  In my opinion, as things turned out, I think that was a fine damn way to walk in.

See, it turns out old Gram was kind of an unsung hero in country music, troubled by a rocky past, losing both parents, and forever remaining in the shadow of other musical talents through bad luck, poor timing, or outright blunders on his part.  And then there’s that grim family ‘curse’ hanging over his head…

The show is billed as ‘a theatrical concert’, which means the music weighs heavy on the performance.  To handle it all, Bate found a swell fella called Anders Drerup, who fits the leading role to a tee, and seems like pretty much a musical prodigy to my ears.  He’s all down home charm as Parsons, telling his life story in between spot-on ballads, trying to be hopeful, but ever reaching for a nearby bottle.  Using his unique ‘Nudie suit’ as a sort of map to his personal history, Parsons recalls encounters with Peter Fonda, the Rolling Stones, and his own personal Jesus.

Drerup as Parsons, putting a little Elvis on the evening.

As he misses opportunity after opportunity, you hope SOMEthing will come along to give Gram some hope…which it does, in act two, with the appearance of Kelly Prescott as Emmylou Harris, Parsons’ protoge at the time.  Without giving much more away, I will happily say that their duet on ‘Cash on the Barrelhead’ is in the books as one of my musical AND theatrical highlights of 2010.  Fucking dynamite.

It’s a great show, with a very strong performance from Drerup carrying the works.  Both he and Prescott are fantastic singers and musicians, and have the kind of chemistry you can’t learn in school.  Now, as a theatre fan, I DID find myself wishing there had been a little more wordwork accompanying the songs…and Prescott as Emmylou is rather criminally underused in the show, for my money.  Still, an amazing show is an amazing show…these are nitpicks, and I half imagine that as the gang gets more comfortable in their roles (they both ARE musicians first, after all), things might change a little if the show evolves further.  Not that I want them to take any of the music AWAY…fuck that.  Them tunes was awesome, and I do say so myself.

A little bit of synchronicity I would now like to share with you all, just for completion’s sake…a bit of a tagline in the Grievous Angel program reads that Gram Parsons ‘lived fast, died young, and left a charred corpse’.  Which struck me as a strange thing to read, because on that day, I was at the end of a book about rocket scientist and occultist JACK Parsons, who ALSO lived fast, died young, AND left a charred corpse.  It gave me a bit of a chill, and i’m suddenly sort of glad that my last name isn’t Parsons.

Then again, I suppose this means no one will ever write a book or a show about me.  But then again, there’s more than ONE way to char a corpse.  And as for GRIEVOUS ANGEL, as the show wends its way across Canada and the US for the next few weeks….stick to living fast.  You do it very well.  Keep on rocking,

The Visitor

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