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July 3, 2007 > An eccentric summer BarBecu

An eccentric summer BarBecu

By Julie Grabowski

It is fairly safe to assume that German composer Richard Wagner never suspected that some day his most ambitious work would be transformed and retold by twangy cowboys, river maidens, a dwarf, psychic, and a narcoleptic all dwelling in the great state of Texas. But this is what you get from the Douglas Morrisson Theatre's summer production, "das BarBecu." Wagner's cycle of four operas titled "Der Ring des Nibelungen" was twisted and compacted into a zany musical comedy by Scott Warrender and Jim Luigs at the request of the Seattle Opera Company in 1991. Their Texas fable centers on a magic gold ring, which is the catalyst for love and greed in three generations of two feuding families.

The story line is a bit convoluted even though you're hit with a lot of information in the opening song "A Ring of Gold in Texas." A cowboy singer named Siegfried is the current possessor of the magic ring made by a dwarf from stolen river gold. He finds himself engaged to two women, Brunnhilde and Gutrune, due to the conniving of one of the girl's half-brothers, Gunther and the other's father, Wotan. A double wedding is arranged (the girls' ignorant of their shared fiancˇ), and the men anticipate the ring's arrival into their respective families' grasp. Cue the singing spinster triplets, synchronized swimming river maidens, and gun-toting Texas Rangers. Das BarBecu is a spinning compass of absurdities set to a patchwork of jazz, country, Texas swing, and Broadway music styles that takes a generous audience.

Five actors play the full troop of thirty characters who appear on stage. The trio of women (Shawna Darling, Shauna Shoptaw, Suzanne Henry) prove stronger than the men (Jay Clifton, Elmer Strasser) both vocally and in performance, but all put forth a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.

Das BarBecu makes one wonder about a great many things, and in particular how fast Mr. Wagner is spinning in his grave. If a show full of absurd names, bad wigs, and nonsensical songs about guacamole and hog-tying your man sounds like it might be a bit painful to witness, follow your gut. But if you're feeling daring or just want to try a different kind of musical experience, "das BarBecu" just might satisfy your needs. It is sure to be like no barbeque you've ever attended.

Ticket prices are $23 for adults, $20 for seniors 50 and over, $17 for adult students with ID, and $15 for juniors 18 and under. There are also special "student rush" tickets; all seats are $5 for anyone with a valid student ID when purchased five minutes before curtain. There are no advanced reservations for these tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets call (510) 881-6777 or visit

das BarBecu
June 29-July 15
Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m.; Sundays 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 North Third Street, Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Tickets $15-$23

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