A corrupt businessman who rules a small Missouri town, any number of lowlifes who do his bidding and start bar fights, until they run into a tough bouncer with a philosophy degree who spouts lines like “Pain don’t hurt” and is said to have ripped a man’s throat out — the 1989 Patrick Swayze action flick Road House has ample fodder for parody, even as it often tilts toward self-parody. It’s the basis for the latest production by the minds behind 30 Minute Musicals, and they have taken the material and run with it to hilarious effect.
Roadhouse the Rock Opera, the musical send-up of the film, is in its final weekend at the Celebration Theatre in West Hollywood, and it’s well worth a look. The large ensemble cast is full of comic talent and backed by a capable band. The lead players include Matt McConkey as Dalton, the Swayze character; Brant Cox as his old pal Wade (Sam Elliott in the film); Todd Buonopane as the villainous tycoon Brad Wesley, played on-screen by Ben Gazzara; and Sarah Schrieber in the Kelly Lynch role of Dr. Elizabeth Clay, the brainy and sexy physician who falls for Dalton. The most famous cast member is Chaz Bono, making his stage debut as Tinker, one of Wesley’s thugs. He gets several funny lines and joins in a fair number of fights on the way to an ignominious end for his character, and Bono acquits himself well, as do, really, all of his fellow actors.
The show was adapted and directed by 30 Minute Musicals founder Brooke Seguin, who also wrote the original score with musical director Dan Wessels and served as producer with Tom DeTrinis. Making her even more of a multihyphenate, she’s part of the acting troupe. The result of all this work is pretty darn entertaining. Roadhouse the Rock Opera is shorter than its movie source (albeit longer than 30 minutes), but the highlights are all there, including guaranteed laugh lines such as “Nobody ever wins a fight” and “I thought you’d be bigger.”
The company generates even more laughs through the use of some interesting props to portray Wesley’s surveillance helicopters and collection of taxidermied animals. There are a lot of (purposely) bad wigs on display too. The small size of the theater makes the production especially intimate; you might even feel you’re a part of it, but be warned, if you’re in the front row, you’re going to have brawlers falling at your feet.
It’s all plenty of fun, though, and continues 30 Minute Musicals’ successful string of inspired parodies of popular films including Showgirls, Jurassic Park, Top Gun, and Home Alone. Next up for the 30MM treatment: Independence Day, which will be part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June.
Roadhouse the Rock Opera will have its final three performances tonight, Friday, and Saturday at the Celebration Theatre. For tickets and more info, click here.