Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It’s ‘Das Barbecu,’ y’all

Tangy Texas-style soap at The Liberty

Express Staff Writer

Rachel Abrams, Debra Wagoner and Beth Hilles are the women of Das Barbecu. Photo by Willy Cook

"Das Barbecu" has the potential to reverse the economy. Well, at least to have a significant impact on it.

According to R.L. Rowsey, music director for the latest Company of Fools production opening tonight, July 4, at Hailey's Liberty Theatre, the musical soap opera will whip people into a state of jollification that will sustain the audience and "bring sheer joy to the community."

"It's hysterical. It's nonsensical. It's larger than life. It takes your cares away and then just when it seems like a piece of trivial entertainment, it tugs really clearly at your heartstrings," Rowsey effused. "I'm so honored to be a part of this one. It feels significant."

With 20 performances slated, Rowsey predicts that local businesses will benefit and hopes that "folks from around the region will come over and spend some time in our amazing town. I hope it sparks lots of life on Main Street."

The hoots and hollers were filtering through the phone during a recent conversation with Company of Fools core member Denise Simone about the show. Between hoots and whoops, she offered this to summarize the plot, adding that it's like "Lord of the Rings" combined with the "Real Housewives of Dallas" with a soundtrack by the Charlie Daniels band.

"Das Barbecu" is basically Wagner's epic Ring Cycle operas reset at the homestead called Valhalla, with characters Wotan and Fricka, the perpetually feuding patriarch and matriarch of the tale. Siegfried is a singing cowboy who rescued his sweetie, Brünnhilde, from 20 years of banishment on a mountain only to nearly be trapped into marriage by the trashy, tacky, yet ultimately good-hearted Gutrune.

The entire show is performed with just five actors playing more than 30 zany characters.

Fans of "Always Patsy Cline" will be excited to see Debra Wagoner back along with Rachel Abrams, Beth Hilles, Duke Lafoon and Mike Tilford. The artistic team includes Joe Lavigne on set design, Jay Ryan on lighting, Ted Macklin on sound and staging by K.O. Ogilvie. Amid the elaborate costumes and costume changes, there's lots of dancing, choreographed by Company artist John Glenn, all lending to the authenticity.

Simone said they hope opening with a "pay what you feel" night will encourage a variety of folks to sample the offering and that it is a family-friendly show that will entertain 11 and olders.

She stressed that one doesn't have to be an opera fan and can even hate opera and still enjoy the show, which she describes as "perfect summer entertainment."

Rowsey sees it as that and so much more.

"We take so much of what goes on in our community for granted. I know I do. A shop that I really love closes and I realize I haven't been in the store in the past year. A restaurant cuts back its hours and I can't remember the last time I supported them," Rowsey said. "I think we forget sometimes that if we really value the opportunities that are available for us, we have to support. This is a perfect show to get friends and family together and spend an evening celebrating Hailey. Go out to dinner. Come laugh out loud. And then go for a walk around town as the sun finally sets. Look at all the things that you've forgotten matter."

Opening night tonight: Pay What you Feel.

Dates: Continues July 5-7; July 10-14; July 17-July 21; July 24-28. (Times vary.)

Cast: Under R.L. Rowsey's direction, Company of Fools has assembled a dizzyingly talented cast of actors to tell this crazy tale— Rachel Abrams, Beth Hilles, Duke Lafoon, Mike Tilford and Debra Wagoner. The artistic team includes Joe Lavigne (set designer), Jay Ryan (guest lighting designer), Ted Macklin (sound design) and K.O. Ogilvie (stage manager).  

Tickets: $30 for adults, $20 for seniors (62 and over) and $10 for students (18 and under). Pay What You Feel preview (July 4), 10 for $10, Girls' Night Out (July 7) and Educator Night (July 5). Special group rate for 6 or more receive $20 tickets. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 208-578-9122 or at the box office starting one hour prior to curtain. Company of Fools' box office is located at the Liberty Theatre, 110 N. Main St. in Hailey, with hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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