Mister D: Tonight is the night Spencer’s “The Rose: The 30th Anniversary Rock Musical” opens in Kansas City. I’ve known him since he was pestering little teenager, so he will always be a BetteHead to me. This sounds weird, but we all need to send positive thoughts that he breaks a leg….you know theatre people and all that. So “break a leg” Spence. I love you and I’m sure all the rest of the BetteHeads love you and collectively wish you’d break a leg. I mean that in the best way possible dear…..see you on the 8th!
If you’d like to check out some of the behind the scenes activity and photos. Check out Spencer’s blog: Click Here
The Rose – A Singer’s Rise and Fall
Ron Megee’s New Production
Story by Pete Dulin.
The details of celebrities’ lives and careers as they rise and fall are subject to more public scrutiny than the stock market’s up-ticks and downturns. Fame is a spectacle that requires spectators in an undeniably codependent relationship. More than ever, people eagerly consume news, gossip, and speculation about the famous (and infamous). Information about entertainers is piped through newspapers, tabloids, magazines, blogs, television, video, and the mouths of friends, family, and coworkers as part of a daily conversation and becomes part of our entertainment. Or maybe it’s just a personal diversion, mass induced. With social media like Twitter and Facebook and ceaseless cable television coverage, we can unite in joy and grief, marvel and dismiss, praise and criticize, in a near-synchronized response when something happens to our stars.
This weekend, the spectacle of a star’s ascension and downfall can be witnessed up close and personal. Ron Megee directs Spencer Brown as The Rose, the lead character in a rock musical that was introduced into popular culture with the film’s debut thirty years ago starring Bette Midler.
Opening July 24, 2009, The Rose will be staged at Urban Culture Project’s la Esquina in the Westside under the curation of Chadwick Brooks. The cast includes recognizable names and less familiar actors in the local indie acting scene”“”“ David Wayne Reed, Kipp Simmons, Dana Nicholson, Corrie Van Ausdal, Kimberly Queen, Ema Taylor, and Areli Gil. Chadwick Brook Musical director Cody Wyoming leads The Rose Band to bring immediacy to the theatrical experience.
The Rose: The 30th Anniversary Rock Musical
Opens Friday, July 24, 2009
PERFORMANCES: July 24, 25, 27, 31 + August 1, 3, 7, 8, 10
All Shows at 9 PM, Box office opens at 8 PM, Seating starts at 8:30 PM
Urban Culture Project’s LA ESQUINA
1000 W 25th St KCMO 64108
Available for purchase online at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/71885
Actor David Wayne Reed and director Ron Megee respond to a few questions about The Rose and our modern fascination with celebrity.
Present: Watching Bette Midler sing “The Rose” still hits like a sucker punch in the gut. Thirty years after the film’s debut, how does this song impact you?
David Wayne Reed: I’ve always been more of a “Do You Wanna Dance” man.
Ron Megee: At first, I lookede at the song more in the corny realm. It had been played so many times over the years as a sappy love ballad (including in elevators). But now, reading the lyrics and seeing it in the context of the show, I can see the desperation in the words for The Rose. It is one tragic ballad of lost love, love that drowns and leaves the soul to bleed.
Present: The self-destructive character in The Rose, modeled after Janis Joplin, is still a very evident archetype in music, film, and any arena of celebrity-dom that the public is exposed to and consumes daily. What parallels to this film’s subject matter do you see with celebrities still in the public eye or that have died in recent years?
Reed: Lindsay Lohan, Misha Barton, Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain…et al. The theme of celebrity self-destruction is so pervasive in our culture that it’s nearly clichÃ©.
Megee: Fame is a wicked game. We place people on pedestals and then try to knock them down. As a society, we love seeing our stars crumble. This show is a perfect example of this. The Rose’s manager pushes her, never letting her stop, including feeding her drugs to keep her going for his gain. In the end, it catches up with her. A perfect example of a star push this way is Michael Jackson.
Present: The film’s tagline is “She gave and gave, until she had nothing left to give.” The corollary to the theme is that the audience, media, and business will take and take, will consume until there’s nothing left, will dispose of after self-gratifying use, and move on. Do you think The Rose is primarily and solely a story that’s evidence of an individual’s tragedy or perhaps also a bit of a moral cautionary tale about this interdependent relationship?
Megee: I think you are right on about it being a moral cautionary tale. When one becomes dependent on others to plan your life, from when you eat, perform, shit, and even whom you love, it becomes a dangerous game. You rely on these people to help you and guide you, but never realize that they could be doing this for their own gain. The Rose pays the ultimate price. She tries to change her path but it is too late.
Present: On a personal level, how does a performer ”“ be it musician, singer, actor, etc. ”“ cope with the demands of fame, the business, the public adoration and private, personal struggles without becoming self-destructive? What’s the healthy approach to not become self-destructive?
Reed: Balance, love and humility.
Megee: Self-destruction is so common. One tries many things to cope with being “on” every moment. Judy Garland is a perfect example of this”“”“a pill to wake up in the morning, booze to numb her soul, and pills to be on for the show. She couldn’t find the strength to cope so she found the power through drugs. In the end, it got her. I have learned over the years to really look at my path and make decisions that affect me, my soul, and what makes me happy in the long run. I have found myself in the past taking wrong turns just to please others.
Present: What else would you like to share about this musical?
Megee: This musical is a rock-and-roll tragedy. We are on the journey of her final days. You as the audience get to ride along as she hits her highs and lows and everything between. It will be one wild roller coaster ride for them.