As a long-time Courtney Love fan, I couldn't pass up the unprecedented opportunity to see her on stage a mere two miles from my condo. She is currently co-starring in Kansas City Choir Boy at the Kirk Douglas Theater, running until November 8.
This was my first time to this theater and it was arranged for this show with seats on three sides of the action. The staging area for the musical was quite small, and it felt very intimate. This is not the kind of show I normally like, as it has very little narrative, but I found myself really enjoying it.
Todd Almond wrote and stars in the musical, as the unnamed Kansas City Choir Boy, who recounts his relationship with Athena (Courtney Love) in flashbacks after seeing a TV news report that she was murdered in a park. Girl meets boy in Kansas City, girl dreams of being an actress, boy writes music, girl leaves to pursue dreams in New York, girl meets a tragic end, boy struggles to go on and seeks her inspiration from beyond the grave. That's about as much of the storyline as I could gather. It's never really explained why he doesn't want to go to New York with her, since he has artistic aspirations, too.
Besides the two principals, there's a group of women known as the sirens who form a Greek chorus. The choreography for the sirens kept things interesting, as did the creative lighting. At times the sound mix was a bit muddled, so it was hard to make out what the actors were singing. A string quartet plays at some points and provides refreshing interludes. The songs were appealing, but I couldn't hum any of them a day after seeing it.
Courtney is mesmerizing with her alabaster skin and commanding presence, however she doesn't have much to do and her character isn't really developed. She basically functions as a muse. At one point, she appears in a black dress that is just spectacular. It's hard to keep your eyes off her. I have been glad to see her in Empire and I hope she continues to focus more on acting. Her singing voice is not for everyone but since the material here is rock-oriented, it works. It would be even better if the script was developed further. It's more of a sketch than a fleshed-out story.
There's palpable chemistry between Almond and Love, and anyone who has loved and lost will find something relatable in the show. Almond based it on his own experience growing up in the midwest and watching TV news and seeing the face of an actress he had been working with who had been murdered in a park.
After the show, there was a talkback, and most of the audience admitted they had no idea what they had witnessed or what the story was about. One woman mentioned she had not been familiar with the music of Cyndi Lauper before seeing the show - clearly, she had her singers with the initials CL confused! Most enjoyed the show for its creativity in lighting, staging, and music. The musical is only an hour, so I think it can get away with its vagueness without wearing out its welcome.
Although I bought tickets through Goldstar Events, we ended up in the front row, and I felt a bit starstruck to be so close to Courtney. A girl next to me could hardly sit in her seat due to her excitement at almost being able to touch the rock icon. I realized the last time I was this close to Courtney was way back in 1994, when I saw Hole on their Live Through This tour at a small club in St Louis. 21 years later, she is still mesmerizing, raw, and a very real presence in an ethereal musical.
Kansas City Choir Boy official website