Friday, February 5, 2010

Author's Blog 001

I kind of got into Oingo Boingo backwards. See, in the mid-90's I was as big Rude Boy as I could be living in Albuquerque, NM and as such tried to dabble in as many ska related things as possible (If you ask nice, I'll show you my tattoo sometime). There was something about the flamboyance and sheer PEP of ska that really appealed to me, and for a long time I felt if you couldn't dance to it, it wasn't worth it. I blame the Skeletones, Let's Go Bowling and The Concentrators for this. Now, around this same time I also happened to be studying theatre, since I had managed to snag a scholarship to the local university and they didn't yet offer musical theatre or acting for film as a major, so I made the most with what I could. Between rehearsing plays and attending Ska shows, my dance card (pun only moderately intended) was pretty full, and having taken notice of my newfound musical obsession, and old, dear friend of mine gave me a copy of "Good for Your Soul" on vinyl. I was skeptical, I'm not going to lie. For me, for the longest time (and I realize now just how close minded I was), Oingo Boingo was nothing more to me than that "Weird Science" band. But hey, a free record is a free record, right?

From the moment the needle hit the record, I was hooked. It had pep. It had showmanship. Now THIS was a band to latch on to!

But let's back up a little further, even. When I was wee, my mom worked part time at a video store owned by some friends of our family (which, if memory serves was just called "Video Movies"), and it being the early-mid 80's and Blockbuster not yet having put the kibosh on mom and pop shops, this was a rare opportunity for me. I spent literally hundreds of hours walking up and down the aisles looking at the video covers (or attempting to), and I swear that one day I came across this day-glo, impressionistic wonder on the shelf: a buxom woman grasping her breast flanked by the devil, a frog...and Tattoo? I was fascinated, I looked at it again and again, until eventually I got caught. But "Forbidden Zone" had entered my vocabulary.

Now let's get a little closer to the present. A few years ago, having become fascinated with the swath of bizarre musicals that cropped up in the late 70's and early 80's ("The Apple,""Phantom of the Paradise,""Shock Treatment"), I FINALLY watched "Forbidden Zone." And from the moment the movie started, just like that needle hitting on the record, I was HOOKED. It was like Alice in Wonderland on PCP filtered through a Dali painting directed by Eugene Ionesco. This Richard Elfman cat? A genius! Oh, and it was funny and sexy and about halfway through the film, I said to myself "This would be killer onstage. I wonder if anyone's done it before?"

Come to find out, they hadn't. Not fully, anyway. And it's a darn good thing, otherwise I might be prepping a production of "Jacques Brel is Alive And Well And Living in Paris" right now.

I did some research and after some digging I found Richard Elfman's contact info, and took an uncharacteristically bold leap and contacted him. I was prepared to write it off and was proud of myself for at least getting that far. Imagine, then, my surprise when Jack Murphy, his business partner in FZ LLC, contacted me to let me know that they just HAPPENED to be screening a new color print of the film at The Egyptian that week and maybe I should come say hi. Seriously, you could've knocked me down with a feather. So I went. And I met Jack. And Richard Elfman himself, who had expressed some chagrin about people having approached them in the past and the feeling not being there. But I lived in LA, so that was a point in my favor. And after the pair of them (and Richard's wife, Lauren) attending a performance at Sacred Fools, the enthusiasm began to grow, and I set about adapting this quintessential bizarro entertainment for the live stage. Which I assure you is no mean feat. How weird is too weird for stage? How do you do the 6th Dimension animations "live?" Do you keep the Princess topless throughout the whole thing (the answer to that one is an emphatic yes, by the way)? Just what the hell do we think we're doing here?! We had a few mandates, but we've also been given a wide berth with this project.

That initial was a little over a year ago as of this writing, and we are still about 5 months away from mounting it.I can already tell you I am incredibly excited and more than a little anxious to put this zombie baby on its feet. As a fan and fanboy, I am all too aware of what the best intentions can do to cherished memories. And I'm going to do my damndest to make sure that not only do they continue to BE cherished memories, but maybe help foster a few new ones before I'm done.

Now go with the Princess. And don't be cheeky.

- Michael Holmes

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