My boyfriend, Don, and I spent the evening out last night. I had gotten us tickets to see the Bay Street Theatre's production of Avenue Q. I've had the Broadway cast recording since the show won the Tony for best new musical in 2003 and I saw the national touring company here at the Johnny Mercer Theater last year on my birthday. It's such a funny show and I was looking forward to seeing it again with a cast full of people I know. Don and I ate dinner beforehand at Fire Street Food. We had watched the movie Rashomon earlier that afternoon while I was painting my nails, so I had a craving for Japanese. Then we walked down to Cafe Gelatohhh! and scarfed down servings of gelatoh that I'm pretty sure outweighed our chicken teriyaki. From there, we only had to stroll around the corner to the Bay Street Theatre. It's in the same building as Club One, on Jefferson Street. The actors perform in the cabaret space above the drag club. In fact, the show finished up at 9:45 and the crew had to strike the set and get everything out of the way so the usual cabaret show could crank up at 10:30. As seems to always be the case for community theatre in this town, the performance space is small, badly designed, woefully inadequate, and has to be shared. In spite of all this, local performers (including myself- yes, I do theatre) routinely overcome the difficulties and put up knock-out shows. Last night's performance was definitely a knock-out!
The Bay Street Theatre Company is only a few years old, but they have become very active. They've expanded from doing just The Rocky Horror Show Live every Halloween and Hedwig and the Angry Inch to including smaller non-musical comedies and dramas, shows focused on LGBTQ issues as well as shows with a broader appeal. A lot of their shows double as fundraisers for an organization called Stand Out Youth. In fact, audience members were invited to give actual cash to the puppets during "The Money Song" in the show last night. Yeah, Avenue Q involves puppets. Also puppet sex. It's... not a show for kids.
One of the best things about BST is they handle scripts, musical or not, that other troupes around here won't touch. Ever notice how all the local theatres in your area seem to do the same shows over and over again? Always Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, always Agatha Christie murder mysteries, always Neil Simon comedies. You know why they do that? Because they're safe choices. Those plays are crowd-pleasers, guaranteed to make money while offending only a minimal number of people. It's very hard to get butts in the seats and keep them coming back. Even at BST, the big musicals they do, like Rocky Horror, basically subsidize the smaller, less well-attended shows like Bug and The Laramie Project. Savannah theatre-goers are getting a little braver, though. The Bay Street Theatre Company picked up Chekhov's gun and fired the first bullets at our somnolent southern scene and the pandemonium has only increased with the addition of this town's first repertory theatre company, The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble. They are always edgy, often controversial, always high quality, and never musical- a daring arrangement financially and artistically. It saddens me to think that most visitors to Savannah have no clue what theatrical variety there is to choose from. They only know about the show at Savannah Theatre on Chippewa Square. It is a good show and all the performers are excellent. However, it's always kind of the same thing: family-friendliness, bouncy musical numbers, cheesy comedy, the same cast, and cheery, cheery, cheerfulness. How sad that so many tourists should miss out the rollicking, raunchy good time offered by What the Butler Saw, or the emotional intensity of 'Night, Mother. That's why I try so hard to promote local theatrical troupes and smaller venues to my walking tour clients.
Avenue Q was spectacular and woe to anyone who misses it! (It still has one more weekend.) Everyone was perfectly cast and sounded great and I'm glad to say the house was packed with a wildly appreciative audience. It helped lift me out of my personal funk for a little while. Some jerk stole my bicycle four days ago and that has completely ruined my week. Being naturally a little obsessive, I simply cannot let it go. Have you ever been homicidally angry for days on end? It really wears you out. I cannot stop glancing at every porch and through every gate and at every bike rack in the vain hope that I will see my bicycle there. Every person I see on the street is potentially the thief and becomes the object of my directionless hatred. Every time the phone rings, I hope it's the police calling to say they found my bike in some thug's house while conducting a drug raid or something.
I bought and paid for that bicycle, it was exactly the kind I wanted, I rode it to and from work for more than a year. I was cleaning and lubing the chain in the backyard and went upstairs for a minute to put some things away and wash my hands. Stupidly, I did not lock it down. My natural sense of paranoia normally prevents me from being so complacent. I came back downstairs and my bike was gone. Just gone. Some sweaty, caviar-brained troglodyte simply opened the gate, hauled his ugly carcass across the yard, and took what was mine. I called the police immediately and they already had my serial number on file, but I know the odds of retrieving my bike are slim. Still, I am on the hunt. I am looking for you, little man. And when I find you with my bicycle, I will rip out your teeth, grind them into a powder, spit in it, and make you brush your gums with the paste. There is a special circle of Hell for bicycle thieves and I will make sure you get there. Oh, yes, I am on the hunt. And now that you have compelled me to travel on foot, my view is that much more precise.