Monster’s Balls

my-34r“This company has cojones,” says Michael York. “The great thing about Long Beach Opera is that they are so alternative. And they have the sheer audacity to pull it off.”

York — the star of “Cabaret,” “Logan’s Run,” and dozens of other films — is speaking of “Frankenstein!!” coming March 14, 15 and 16 to the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Described as a “’pan-demonium’ for chansonnier and orchestra,” the theater piece by H. K. Gruber assembles macabre nursery rhymes about John Wayne, Superman, and Dr. Frankenstein with assorted vampires and werewolves.

“Andreas Mitisek had approached me about doing the West Coast premiere of my ‘Enoch Arden’ for the first half of a double bill,” York tells FineArtsLA. ”We began looking for a piece for the second half. I was on the road with Camelot, and this CD of ‘Frankenstein!!’ arrived. It’s full of comic book characters, which Gruber sets on their head. I thought, well, why not?”

Mitisek, artistic director of Long Beach Opera, says, “The nursery rhymes are rather child-like, but nightmarish — definitely not for children.”

Of mounting Gruber’s virtually uncatagorizable theater piece, Mitisek explains, “There is a lot of craziness there – it’s a highly entertaining work. I had a vision of puppetry with an edge. Asking around I found the Rogue Artists Ensemble, right here in Long Beach. They were doing some really twisted stuff.”

The Rogue Artists Ensemble is a collective of multi-disciplinary artists, most of whom met at UC Irvine, who create Hyper-theater, an innovative hybrid of theater traditions, puppetry, mask work, dance, music, and modern technology. Through an integrative development process, emphasizing design and storytelling, the Rogues create original performance art.

“We were given a blank canvas,” says Tyler Stamets, associate artistic director of the Rogue Artists. “Andreas sent us a CD and said, ‘Imagine what you’d like to see.’”

The resulting collaboration means that this weekend, singer-actor Michael York steps into an alternate universe peopled by assorted life-sized puppets, surprises, special effects and projections.

The first half of the unique double bill presents Mr. York in his internationally lauded performance of Tennyson’s story of love and loss, “Enoch Arden,” set to music of Richard Strauss. York will sign copies of his CD following the performance. — PO

Comments are closed Trackback

Comments are closed.