Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: broadway

Boogaloo Down Broadway

Oh, yes, Enthusiasts. You forgot. You tucked the information away in the back pocket of your mind, forgot it there, left it when you put your mind in the wash. I now take that information and place it in a sealed bag of rice. This promotional still–and you can barely call it a “still,” there’s so much exuberance in the shot–is from Red Roses, Green Gold, which is what’s referred to in the theater world as a “jukebox musical,” which is a show biz term for “not an actual musical.” Musicals are damn near impossible to write–Steven Sondheim went insane for a year or two and thought he was living in Rome around 100 AD; Rodgers ate Hammerstein–but jukebox musicals are simple. You go down to your local Sam Goody’s, buy a group’s greatest hits, hire some actors, rent a theater, and wait for the money to roll in.

Except when it doesn’t. For every jukebox musical that runs for years, such as Mamma Mia or Jersey Boys, there’s a The Times They Are A-Changin’ or Tonight’s The Night. (Based on the work of Dylan and Rod Stewart, respectively.) Even the good ones are pointless, other than as revenue sources, but tourists and the middle-class enjoy sitting in pretty buildings while young people sing for them, so they’re going to keep making them.

Red Roses, Give Us Your Money tells the story of…well, I’ll let them you:

Did you kill yourself halfway through the blurb? I did, like, two or three times.

But then I horror-vomited myself back to life:

Did you horror-vomit? I bet you did.

Anyway, there’s a plot of some sort:

  • The characters are introduced.
  • Their goal is stated.
  • Comic reversals occur.
  • An ingenue with an enormous voice sings the song right before intermission.
  • Overpriced wine and candy.
  • The comic reversals are reversed once again, comically.
  • The Act Two Hoedown, also known as the Shipoopi number.
  • Song from Act One is resung, but with a different meaning this time.
  • Big finish.
  • You wanna eat or go back to the hotel?
  • I’m hungry.
  • There’s an Olive Garden.
  • Ooh, I bet the Olive Garden in New York is fancy.

And so on.

If you’re thinking about taking in the show, you’d better hurry. The Hollywood Reporter said “If Garcia weren’t dead, this show would kill him” and the New York Times calls the show “cartoonishly corny.” Also: it is an abomination against the Lord AND there are no fucking Bobby songs. On the other hand, Jeff Chimenti was the musical director and did all the arrangements, so he got a check and that is a good thing.

OR

If I really did have a Time Sheath, I’d go back and knock that fucking hat off Garcia’s head.

The Grateful Dead Broadway Musical: Scene 2

LIVING ROOM – 710 ASHBURY

(GARCIA, BOBBY, BILLY (played by Alec Baldwin for two weeks until he called the director a homo, and now played by Carol Channing), and PIGPEN (played by the chandelier from Phantom of the Opera) are present.

The mood is downcast. Garcia fiddles with a guitar. Billy does jazz hands.)

SONG: WHAT’S IN A NAME?

(Phil, played by Tommy Tune, bursts in the door holding a vinyl record.)

PHIL
Whatever you doing, guys, put it aside
My news just might blow off your socks!
I was down at the record shop–

PIG
Binky’s?

PHIL
That’s right
And guys, we’re not the only Warlocks!

(Phil shows them the record cover. There is falling about and gnashing of teeth.)

GARCIA
How can they do this?

BILLY
I think it’s a plot!

BOBBY
We are the Warlocks
They’re certainly not!

BILLY
I say we slice ’em up, dice ’em up fine
Rip off their flesh and then coat them in brine
And stick great big guns in their dirty assholes
Then feed their families to muskrats and moles
Set fire to everything they’ve ever loved
Their houses and hair and their first-baseman’s gloves
So all that they have now is covered in flame
And then maybe next time they won’t steal our name.

(The music stops and everyone stares at Billy.)

BILLY
Or we could just pick a new one, I guess.

(A spotlight illuminates Garcia.)

GARCIA
What’s in a name?
Who am I, Gertrude Stein?
What’s in a name?
It should sparkle and shine.

Something with a bit of mystery
Something from the depths of history
Something with some blood and also dirt

(The other four stand up and assemble into a barbershop quartet.)

BAND
Something that looks bitchin’ on a tee-ee-shirt!

GARCIA
The Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle!
That is a name that’s as good as they come!

PIG
It’s too tough to say.

BOBBY
And it’s too hard to spell.

BILLY
And I can’t fit it on my bass drum.

GARCIA
Let’s hear your ideas, then
I bet that they’re great.

BOBBY
How about Ratdog?

PHIL
I like Doctor Fate.

BILLY
I got it!

(Billy crosses to CENTER STAGE.)

BILLY
Let’s call ourselves Billy & The Billys!

(Billy tap dances for an uncomfortably long time.)

ALL
No!

(THE DEVIL DRESSED AS A DICTIONARY enters, played by Bea Arthur.)

THE DEVIL
So you need a name?
Well, that’s my game.
You can find fame
With a really boss name

Your lives won’t be the same
No, this isn’t a game
Boys, don’t be so lame
Come and find your new name

(The BEARS enter and dance with THE DEVIL, who is played by Bea Arthur.

A DICTIONARY BATHED IN A GOLDEN SHAFT OF LIGHT descends from the ceiling. The band gathers around it.)

ALL
The Grateful DEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAD!

(BLACK OUT.)

The Grateful Dead Broadway Musical: Scene One

ACT ONE

(Tie-dyed curtain rises to reveal BOB WEIR, played by Ben Vereen in his Pippin costume. He wanders across the stage with a guitar slung on his back.

The set is a SAN FRANCISCO STREET SCENE. The house from 710 Ashbury is STAGE LEFT. Magoo’s is STAGE CENTER. Dana Morgan’s music shop is STAGE RIGHT.)

SONG – WHEN BOBBY MET GARCIA.

BOBBY
Kickin’ around
This foggy old town
The streetcars, they don’t know my name.

I’d rather be ropin’
And punchin’ and pokin’
And back at my home on the range.

(As he is walking by Dana Morgan’s, he stops. There is BANJO MUSIC coming from behind the door. He knocks, and JERRY GARCIA, played by Patti Lupone, answers. He looks at Bobby, then up and down the street.)

GARCIA
Well, hey, how are you, buddy?
All my students are real late.

BOBBY
Well, hey, I don’t think they’re coming.

GARCIA
Why not, man?

BOBBY
Check the date!

(A spotlight illuminates the 1964 calendar in the window of Dana Morgan’s. All the days are X’ed out up until December 31st.)

GARCIA
My evening’s opened up
My name’s Jerry; how’d you do?

BOBBY
I do pretty darn well
The name’s Bobby Double-U.
You can see I’ve got my gee-tar
And I’ve got a joint as well

GARCIA
Then come in, friend, and tune up
And we’ll give these steel strings hell.

BOTH
And we’ll jam jam jam jam jam.
Yes, we’ll jam jam jam jam jaaaaaaaam!

(A GREEK CHORUS made up of DANCING BEARS enters and begins NOODLE DANCING.)

Possible Titles For The Dead’s New Broadway Musical*

  • Lady with a Phantom of the Opera.
  • Cats (Under The Stars).
  • The Philtasticks.
  • How to Succeed in Show Business Without Really Trying and While Killing Multiple Keyboardists.
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Marin County.
  • Olompali!
  • The Producers (starring Lenny Hart and Ron Rakow).
  • Bring in da Nitrous, Bring in da Funk.
  • Kinky Birkenstocks.
  • Guys And China Dolls.
  • Hello, Bobby!
  • God Damn, do I Declare Yankees.
  • Bird Song Trilogy.
  • And so I Wrestle with the Angels in America.
  • Stinson Beach Memoirs.
  • Phantom of the Operator.
  • Fiddler on a Tin Roof.

*I don’t know why this is happening, either, but I think it’s safe to declare that we’re well past Peak Dead.

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