Last summer I wrote a story about the CenterStage production of the 1998 sexually charged revival of Cabaret. At the time, it seemed a lot of people wondered if Birmingham was ready for such a show - a show filled with cross dressing, sexual promiscuity, alcohol abuse, and issues such as abortion, homosexuality and racism. “I think Birmingham audiences have been ready and are ready for something a little edgier than let’s say, Oklahoma,” Birmingham theatre favorite Kimberly Kirklin said at the time.
The show went over well; in fact, during the Saturday evening performance I sat beside an elderly couple who professed to me just how wonderful and scandalous they thought it was.
One thing is for certain: If Birmingham wasn’t ready for that show then, they better brace themselves for what’s to come as we approach a month's-end full of exciting local theatre. The Birmingham theatre docket is chock full of cutting edge, provocative and, in some cases, scurrilous shows. Check them out below:
Theatre UAB presents The Laramie Project, a show about the 1998 homophobia-motivated murder of student Matthew Shepard written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. Writers of the play interviewed and observed hundreds of people in the town of Laramie, Wy. and based the play on these interviews and news reports. The play was first performed in 2000 and was turned into an HBO movie in 2002. UAB student Luke Harlan directs; this is the first time a student has directed a Theatre UAB performance. The show opens Wednesday, Feb. 20 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Alys Stephens Center. Tickets are $6-$15. Call 975-2787.
Did you ever wonder what happened to your favorite Peanuts characters? Find out when Theatre Downtown presents the off-Broadway hit, Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Snoopy meets an untimely death and Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang are left to deal with typical teenage issues: sex, drugs, and general rebelliousness. The show opens Thursday, Feb. 21 and runs through March 1 at the Playhouse. Tickets are $12-$17. Call 306-1470.
Get ready to see The Full Monty at the Red Mountain Theatre Company’s Cabaret Theatre Thursday, Feb. 21 through March 2. You remember the movie: unemployed steelworkers strip for money. This is the musical version of the same story. Remember to leave the kiddies at home, because this one is for “mature” audiences. Tickets are $30. Call 324-2424 or visit www.redmountaintheatre.org.
Also opening Thursday, Feb. 21, is Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Birmingham Festival Theatre. The show features a collection of songs and poems dedicated to people who have died from AIDS. Inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which has been on display a couple of times in Birmingham, and the Spoon River Anthology, the show debuted in the late 1980s in New York City and features music by Janet Hood and lyrics by Bill Russell. Tickets are $30 and proceeds benefit Birmingham AIDS Outreach. Show runs through Feb. 24. Call 933-2382 or visit www.bftonline.org.
Also playing around town:
Cry Havoc - Through Feb. 17 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts
Fame - Through Feb. 24 at the Levite Jewish Community Center
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change - Through Feb. 24 at the Virginia Samford Theatre
Upcoming around town:
Raisin in the Sun - Opens Feb. 28 at The Altamont School
As You Like It - Opens March 1 at the Alys Stephens Center
Into the Woods* - Opens March 7 at the Virginia Samford Theatre
*This show is a personal favorite of mine. It's a witty, dramatic and inspirational combination of favorite Brothers Grimm fairy tales by Stephen Sondheim. It's full of useful maxims such as, "A slotted spoon doesn't hold much soup." You won't be disappointed.