Through May 19|
THE UNDENIABLE SOUND OF RIGHT NOW Road Less Traveled Productions/RLTP Theatre
By Augustine Warner
Do you ever go past some bar where you hung out in your youth?
Was it more than just because the beer was cheap and there were plenty of women of your age?
Maybe it was the music.
I fairly frequently go by a re-purposed space where I spent way too much time listening to Spoon and the House Rockers.
They were an okay local band and I had some good times.
So much of the experience was the music.
Thatís what Laura Easonís ďThe Undeniable Sound of Right Now,Ē is about, a bar and the music, a bar beautifully realized in Dyan Burlingameís set.
But, this is serious rock and roll in Hankís bar and has been for a quarter of a century.
Itís the kind of place which showed off The Clash or Fleetwood Mac, with Stevie Nicks leaving behind a scarf Hank has held onto.
Now, up and coming bands arenít playing the kind of music Hank likes and business isnít what it was and the neighborhood is gentrifying, something even noticed by his long-time techie, Toby, Jeff Coyle.
When Hankís opened, the neighborhood was so bad no one wanted to go there or live there, except, of course, for people who wanted to drink in Hankís and listen to the music.
Now, as Hank gets national publicity, business is bad and the landlord is old and his son Joey (Nick Stevens) wears good suits and thinks the building will make him bucks as something to do with the condos rising in the community.
Hank (Peter Palmisano) doesnít want to change anything, while his daughter Lena (Christine Turturro), like in Lena Horne, wants to change a lot to get in touch with the current world her father is ignoring.
Mom? She wandered into the darkness and never returned, long ago.
Then, Lena meets Nash (Johnny Barden), a locally celebrated DJ and they are soon making some horizontal music.
While father and daughter live upstairs over the bar, Lena makes sure itís separate apartments.
Itís the old and the new, father and fatherís girlfriend, Bette (Diane DiBernardo), and daughter, live music and DJing, real estate magnate father and son.
Hank is like the people running GM or GE, passed by.
Heís going to go under with his bar, but he wants to go down his way, with the music of early rockíníroll playing.
Both Palmisano and Turturro show some skill with the fret boards.
Hank does agree to let Lena run a DJ party in the old meat-packing plant which is behind a sliding door in the bar, but the landlordís property.
The event makes a lot of money and Joey is very unhappy itís not his, although it means Hank and Lena make their month-to-month rent.
Itís pretty clear where this is running, but itís a great ride of the old making way for the new.
Is it better? Thatís a generational question I donít deal with.
Eason put together a pointed and poignant story of time and the music, a time starting for Hankís at the time of Woodstock.
Now, itís all over except for the legalities.
You leave the RLTP looking backward, at those good times in the old days and look around you at the current generation and wish they knew what you have learned so painfully.
In one flash, Lena has learned.
This is a wonderful opportunity for director David Oliver, with his sense of age and class distinctions which suffuse this show.
ďThe Undeniable Sound of Right NowĒ is one of those plays where you know from the first line of the show that it wonít go well.
Itís Edith Piaf trumpeting ďJe Ne Regrette RienĒ and Hank will be what he is, even as his time is gone.
It would be fascinating for two generations of a family to see this show together and listen to the likely different reactions.
Even just as a couple, see Easonís ďThe Undeniable Sound of Right Now.Ē
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