Back in early November a series of events conspired to have me sitting in the middle of the very front row for a Friday night preview of the musical Desperately Seeking Susan. I hadn't planned to be there, I had volunteered to be merely the driver for somebody else's night out but illness, car trouble and a no-show meant I really couldn't, politely, refuse the ticket.
The show was so terrible; so ill conceived, so inevitably doomed that it almost seemed cruel to be watching it. I hear its set to close before Christmas. Now that's a real $7million stinker. Imagine how poorly it's performed if the theatre prefers to be dark in the run up to the New Year.
For those that don't know (and really don't commit this to memory you won't need to recall the information, it will never be staged again) DSS is a stage musical based on the film. It's exactly like the film in fact. Except, crucially, there are a dozen or so Blondie songs shoe-horned in. Most so crudely placed that it's just as though they are acting out the lyrics charades style - "I'm in the phone booth it's the one across the hall" - guess where that one is sung from - or - "When I saw you in the restaurant..." - yes, they're in a restaurant.
Emma Williams can't reproduce Madonna at her slutty best and Kelly Price's Roberta is miles away from the goofy allure of Rosanna Arquette's film performance. When the one minor highlight is that the cartoon villain, who gets to chase after the pair, seemingly endlessly on a hidden treadmill, (whilst singing "One way or another/ I'm gonna get you, get you, get you") bears a passing resemblance to the Morrissey look-a-like baddie in Lazy Town you know you're in trouble.
By the end my face had contorted into a locked lobotomised grin that probably mirrored the forced "good time" dancing of the clunky chorus as they hurled themselves around the set for the finale. But even the curtain didn't save us. Unbidden the entire cast came back on and reprised almost all of the songs in a mega-mix style medley of grisly inevitability.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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