Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Show review: Peaches Christ Superstar at the Portage Theater, 12/14

Posted by Andrew

Photo Credit: Holger Talinski
Nope, I’ve never seen or heard "Jesus Christ Superstar." Not particularly an avid follower of Peaches either. So what brought me to the Portage Theater Tuesday night to check out the one woman rendition of the critically acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Weber play? I still can’t tell you. Must have had something to do with the absurdity of the concept in itself. And maybe I expected something fantastic to erupt out of the performance. Honestly, I was a bit let down in that aspect. Peaches, for all of the hype and reviews I had read about previous shows (JCSS related or not) seemed very awkward and unconfident of her abilities as a performer. For much of the first act, she stood with her arms at her sides and legs stiff with occasional pseudo-sexual dance moves that only added to the discomfort due to their insincerity. I couldn’t help but wonder if her awkward stage presence was an exterior admittance of her own insecurity about the project.

In the first act, Peaches donned a skin tight white leotard with a ludicrously large collar. The second act countered this with an oversized gold parka with matching gold leggings. Again, the seeming nervousness continued with unconscious hands slipped into pockets or tugs at the zipper. However, when the crowd started to get more into it (and oh, did they get into it) the more Peaches began to reveal her true performer Self. The darker and deeper the plot got (which, as a JSCC novice I could only follow via the tone of the musical accompaniment), the more the hoots and hollers and moans and roars emanated. Although overall plagued by the non-dramatic, the play's most theatrical component was that of Peaches thrashing a whip all of 39 times. By the end of it, she had to prompt the crowd to continue counting along. But throughout the performance, those familiar with the musical took any chance they could to participate.

To her credit, Peaches never broke character by slipping a smile or any other recognition that she was in midst of performance. Only during the last number, when seven disciples entered the stage to worship the crucified Peaches, did the play take on new life. Her martyred being maintained the lower-case ‘t’ stance throughout the entire final number while her entourage danced in front (a video from a NYC performance can be seen here). To reiterate, I was not familiar with the play and therefore cannot accurately judge any re-portrayal thereof. But for the majority, Peaches didn’t quite blow me away as I had expected. I have to give credit to her voice and range but disapprove of the lacking theatrics and natural movement. Backing pianist (the only musical accompaniment) Chilly Gonzales certainly held up his part of the deal and may have even gotten a bigger applause at the end than did Peaches. Recently given Too Many Sebastians number one album of the year, hopefully this tour will lend him the recognition he deserves. At the end of the night, I’ll still admit that I’m glad this is something I witnessed, if only for its particularity and not for any astounding artistic achievement.


Check out more show reviews: 
The 1900s at Empty Bottle
Archie Powell & the Exports at Darkroom
November show recap: Molehill, Magic Kids, White Mystery
Gold Motel at Subterranean
The Blow at the Empty Bottle
Marnie Stern at the Empty Bottle

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