Bye Bye, Bye Bye Verdi

WHAT a drag.

The whole thing just sets your head spinning. Clean-cut young Harvard lads decked out as well-endowed women, putting on a musical--an art form that is perhaps the most banal and vapid vehicle in the American cultural desert--for their well-dressed, well-mannered and well-off patrons and friends.

Toss in a ballet dancer whose work epitomizes the cultural ascendancy of Western Civilization, a man who learned his art in Soviet Russia but fled to the West so that he could bring about the long-awaited union of ballet and tap-dancing for the silver screen, and you've got a gala Pudding opening night.

Bye Bye Verdi

Hasty Pudding Theatricals 139

Directed by Michael Allosso

Written by Adrian Blake and Jon Tolins

Black tie, white nights and blue blood.

All in the name of tradition, a grand tradition that our staid 300-year-old University prizes to the tune of a $1 million investment in the building that houses the theater. A tradition it would seem of sumptuous costumes, sumptuous scenery and smutty puns.

Trying to dismantle all of the psychological and socio-economic implications of a Pudding show is a daunting task. Too trying certainly for a sportswriter today turned art critic. So my question will be of a simpler sort. Was it good?

That answer's easy. Awful. It was awful. The first act had some moments and some of the individual performances were strong, one even memorable, but the whole thing was nothing less than regrettable.

It may be that I've gone to so many hockey games that I've become overly sensitive, but this Bye Bye Verdi is downright dirty. And worse, deadly dull.

Even a boisterous crowd of Pudding lovers willing to shell out $50 a seat was unable to generate much enthusiasm for this three-hour ordeal. The audience began getting restless from the start and on one occasion during the second act a particularly loathsome joke yielded a lone cackle from the back row.

A Pudding show is nothing but scatological, sexist claptrap. Done well, the offensive nature of the production is washed away with an endless stream of giggles. If you keep 'em laughing, there's no time to reflect on the preposterous, even revolting ethos.

Everyone enjoys a fast-paced role in the intellectual mud of double-entendres, ridiculous costumes and lyrics, but the humor last night was only occasional and uneven, relying on kielbasa jokes and references to T.V. sitcoms that failed to ignite the well-soused audience.