Chuck Berry singing Hail, hail, rock and roll, deliver me from the days of old in the ‘60s heyday of Rock ‘n Roll could be the theme song for the MoMs, five women who completely change their lives. They form a band and become rock stars.
For each of them the band is an escape, whether from boredom, frustration, or perhaps simply the awareness that something is missing from life. It is rebellion, accomplishment, and ultimately both freedom and bondage.
It all begins with a performance of the prophetic song I Want to be a Rock Star at the local high school. As they step on stage they are tentative and scared, but as they finish and hear the applause their rejoinder is “at least it felt good to be a rock star for a night.”
Then a commercial for Stay Fresh starts it all. We become part of their story of success, disintegration and hope. It’s all high energy and high decibel. There are a few songs and some dialogue that may offend, but it couldn’t have been sung or said any other way. We are held completely captive by the amazing transformations. Perhaps the most striking are Ingrid and Catalina.
Ingrid (Dana McCoy) is the wife of a wealthy and successful man and living the life of the “ladies who lunch.” She segues in song from “nothing else to do all day” to Take Me to Funky Town. With a legit voice as well as a belt, there is a Janis Joplin quality about her. The disintegration is clearly portrayed. From social drinking, martini in hand, to drugs and beer from the bottle.
Catalina (Stefanie Seskin) starts out as a somewhat mousy and very frightened girl and changes almost imperceptibly to a tough and no holds barred rock star. Sexually frustrated she longs for her “Cowboy” (get on your horse and ride). She finds him in the form of an electrician and then wonders if the ride was worth it.
All five more than hold their own as singers and musicians and the brief spoken scenes are effective. It is apparent that they are vocally extremely well trained. Two hours of hard core belting is nothing less than a major feat. The entire cast is very talented and superbly balanced.
Melissa (Bekka Lindstrom) appears to be the toughest of the group and announces without apology that she never really wanted kids. Nancy (Jane Keitel), who has grown up with no self esteem, finally tells her denigrating dad, I Can Dance. Karen (Donna Jean Fogel), playing drums and placed all the way upstage is perhaps least defined, through no fault of her own.
After two years the constant touring and time away from family begins to dim the joy of success…or does it? There’s a lot of rebellion, but Why Can’t He Take Care of the Kids? ends with a phone call and a sweet and submissive, “Hi, honey.”
With the song, Goin’ Down, Down, Down, we begin to see the drinking, drugs and sex. It is disturbing to watch the changes, all augmented with very effective pictures flashed on the backdrop.
Eight years later, full circle, and they are back performing where it all began, at the local high school.
It may be that the virtually happy ending (particularly the flying scene) seems a bit too pat and too contrived, but what might have been an unbelievable melodrama is so well written and directed (Richard Caliban), and so ably supported by all involved, including Jeff Knapp (Sound and Multimedia), Jonathan Cottle (Light Design) and Haejin Han (Stage Manager) that we believe every moment. It’s an exciting and disturbing story. The energy never lapses and the pace carries us through the entire experience.
A program note reads “Our small musical may not sizzle with special effects but we believe it has heart and soul and we hope you’ll have as much fun experiencing it as we do bringing it to you.”
It does, and you will.
Don’t miss it…only three more performances: Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
At: TBG Theatre
312 West 36th Street,
Tickets at SmartTix
Photos, from top:
1. Jane Keitel & Bekka Lindstrom
2. Stefanie Seskin, Jane Keitel, & Bekka Lindstrom
3. Stefanie Seskin, Jane Keitel, Dana McCoy, Donna Jean Fogel, & Bekka Lindstrom
4. Stefanie Seskin, Bekka Lindstrom