Charles Kerbs died last year during the successful run of his one-act comedy Midgets From Uranus, produced at Cowpokes Theater by DRAMA! -- the fledgling company of which Kerbs was artistic director. Kerbs, a New Orleans native, started his playwriting career in the 1960s in New York City, where he was a charter member of Joseph Chaikin's renowned Open Theater. He returned to New Orleans in the '70s and continued writing and directing here. Then, he withdrew from theater for more than two decades. I didn't know Kerbs well, but he seemed embittered -- worn out by the years of effort and the meager returns. It's a sad irony that Kerbs died suddenly, not long after experiencing some sort of spiritual sea change that freed up his idealism and creative energies.
Sexy Music Again, currently on the boards at Cowpokes, is a script Kerbs wrote 30 years ago -- though he did some rewriting shortly before he died in preparation for the already planned production.
The setting is "a downtown apartment -- Anywhere, USA." Diana, an attractive woman in her late 20s, enters a slovenly apartment with a man named Todd. He's her age, more or less, and also attractive. It's Todd's place. Diana is wearing nothing but an expensive slip under a trench coat. They're both tipsy and Diana is hot to trot, as they say -- an attitude that makes Todd extremely nervous. Gradually, their relation becomes clear. They were married. Todd discovered he was gay. The marriage fell apart. Diana has remarried. Todd is in love with a man, but he has found happiness as elusive in homoerotic love as he did in heterosexual marriage. Todd loves Diana, but doesn't desire her. Diana loves Todd, but cannot have him. They are, nonetheless -- as the drunken revelations show -- soul mates.
Under Chip Steltz's direction, the play gets off to an uneasy comic start, but soon settles down to the main issue: the irreconcilable rift and enduring bond between the two characters. Grace Fraga and Michael-Chase Creasy draw us into this troubled vortex and offer us many poignant moments, where we glimpse despair hidden beneath the crude language of lust. I don't know how Sexy Music Again would play in "anywhere, USA," but it should have considerable resonance in "the queen city of the South."
Meanwhile, over at True Brew, Greg DiLeo is celebrating "B" day; that is, Sept. 16, 1964, the day the Beatles performed in Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. This was the Liverpool foursome in its first incarnation, with mop-top hairdos, dark ties and peg-leg suits. Having seen what was to follow and, for that matter, what is still upon us, these baby-faced English lads looked quaint and wholesome. They had not yet discovered the wonders of LSD, the mysteries of transcendental meditation, the joys of vintage clothing, the allure of facial hair or the glamour of surreal lyrics. Their desires were simple: they wanted to hold her hand!
Mikko conceived and directed Beatles 4-Ever and (along with David Cuthbert) helped DiLeo research the subject. About 12,000 people turned out for the concert, nearly all high schoolers, nearly all of the female sex. Once the Beatles arrived onstage, the girls started screaming so loud that no one could hear the music. A few minutes after the show started, one bold young fanatic climbed over the crowd-control fence and charged across the field toward the stage. More than 700 of her jealous peers followed her lead. The 225 policemen and their special auxiliaries were unable to halt the stampede and, in desperation, set about tackling the screaming bacchantes, one by one -- a tumultuous episode.
DiLeo tells the story from various perspectives in various voices and performs a selection of Beatles hits that he accompanies on acoustic guitar, mouth harp and, at times, an snazzy electronic voice reproduction device to add those famous post-Everly-Brothers harmonies. All around the room, people seemed like they were about to jump to their feet and testify. On several songs, the whole room joined in.
Judging by the audience, "B" day is a treasured memory.
- Greg DiLeo sings songs and reminisces about the Beatles' memorable 1964 appearance at Tad Gormley Stadium in Mikko's ongoing presentation of Beatles 4-Ever at True Brew.