WED., JULY 19, 2006
Doing a live production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in July in Austin is like doing Beach Blanket Bingo in Siberia in December: You gotta have some world-class thespians to sell that kind of incongruity. Flannel is hot enough in the winter, but flannel on the Zilker Hillside Stage in the dead of summer is suicidal masochism, the kind of inexplicable turd in the punch bowl that completely tears down the fourth wall. Fortunately, the hillside is far enough away from the stage (which, to add another stifling hot layer of irony, is painted black, sort of like a huge, Dutch oven) that you probably won’t get drenched during the barn dance scene when the brides and bros start twirling around like human schvitz sprinklers. You’re more likely to see drier wardrobe at a wet T-shirt contest, but certainly not a more spectacular one. Word has it that the costumes in this production are so resplendent that they alone are worth a couple of hours of swelter. As for the performers, who could question the commitment of any actor or actress willing to give so much (measurable empirically, one would imagine, in quarts) to practice their craft? Imagine trying to keep a happy, horny lumberjack smile on your face while your crotch is boiling up some ball soup? Acting like that deserves a Tony … or at the very least a beer bong full of iced Gatorade. Speaking of Gatorade, you should probably bring some yourself. When it comes to outdoor theatre in Austin, hydration is key. The human body is an air- and liquid-cooled engine, and the nice thing about the Zilker Hillside Theatre is that you can bring your own drinks … including hooch as long as you’re not all hillbilly about it. The other nice thing is that the dress code is … well … ”lax” would be an understatement, but suffice it to say that unlike the mountain folk onstage, you could rock anything down to a thong or a plum smuggler and still be mostly legal. And, as ever, it’s always legal to go topless in Austin, but sometimes it isn’t cool to be so cool.