What do you get when you take a 15-hour opera storyline and rework it to fit into two hours set in a Texas honky-tonk bar? The answer is “Das Barbecü,” a witty spin-off of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, with book and lyrics by Jim Luigs, and music by Scott Warrender. With a score ranging from Broadway to Texas swing, jazz and country and western, the show is complete with a singin’ cowboy named Siegfried, Hagen’s Hideaway roadhouse, and a gaudy palace named Valhalla Ranch.
Playing the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, the adaptation is a comic take on Wagner’s series of four operas. Directed by Micheal Kott of Carol Stream, the cast features Emily Goldberg, Dylan McGill, Drew Longo, Kristin Lutzeier and Morgan Briggs, of whom heroic demands are made.
Although the theater is located on Morton College’s campus, auditions are open to the public, and all the actors in this production are professionals, explains Jedlicka’s Managing Director Melanie Lamoureux, a Hinsdale native who also is artistic director of Hinsdale’s BAMtheatre. Lamoureux talks about the show’s wild ride.
Tell me a little bit about ‘Das Barbecü.’
It’s a hilarious production. We have five actors and they play over 30 different characters, so they all have to run off stage and change costumes very quickly. It’s shocking, because it’s so fast. I spoke with the composer and the gentleman that commissioned it, and they were telling me about how they came up with this adaptation. They wanted it to be that if people loved the ‘Ring’ cycle, they would love this, but if they’ve never heard of it, they would still like it. This is the same story as the ‘Ring’ cycle.
This will be the regional premiere — what does that mean to you?
We really like to take on regional premieres. It’s definitely an exciting project to work on material that hasn’t been tapped into too much. I know it was originally commissioned for Seattle, and it did have a little off-Broadway run in New York, but we’re the first people to do it in the Midwest.
What went into preparing for this production?
One of the biggest challenges for us was the costumes. We have to costume five actors and fill 30 different characters. That was difficult. Also, the costumes have to be removed and put on so quickly, so that was hard, but the costume designer was awesome. Another difficult part was to take the story and comprehend it at first — it is complicated and intricate. The actors had to take some time to trace the storylines and follow their own personal journeys.
What are you most looking forward to for opening night?
It’s always fun just to witness the last week. It starts out with everyone totally stressed out, and then day-by-day, it’s just magical to watch how it comes together piece by piece. It’s also cool to see the difference in the actors’ performances, when there’s a crowd for the very first time. They come alive in a new way, and it’s very cool to watch that.
See the musical comedy
What: “Das Barbecü” promises a rip-roaring country good time inspired by Wagner’s “Ring” cycle
Where: Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero
When: Now through Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays
How much: $12 to $18; (708) 656-1800, jpactheatre.com