The Next Stage

Jimy Murphy, the Kamikazi Kid, gets his act together.

A month later, Hopkins died. Not long after, he and O'Brien visited Murphy in a dream. "What the fuck are you doing?" they asked. "It's time you got busy again."

When he awoke, Murphy realized they were right. This time he'd write a play for adults.

Three years earlier he'd visited a nude beach on the island of Maui, where he'd overheard two teenagers debating whether they should join the sun worshipers or try to leave without being noticed. Now, with the ghosts of Hopkins and O'Brien for company, Murphy sat down to write Heaven's a Nude Beach.

We're with the band (from left): Kamikazi Klones Mike Lenz, Mark Hopkins, Jimy Murphy, Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon backstage at the Rainbow Music Hall before opening for the Motels; Murphy's grandfather's band (right).Enter, stage left: Jimy Murphy, performing with the Evergreen Players (top); a scene from Murphy's Heaven?s a Nude Beach, now playing in Evergreen (above); and Klones Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon taking off.Send in the klones: Jimy Murphy, still crazy after all these years.
John Johnston
We're with the band (from left): Kamikazi Klones Mike Lenz, Mark Hopkins, Jimy Murphy, Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon backstage at the Rainbow Music Hall before opening for the Motels; Murphy's grandfather's band (right).Enter, stage left: Jimy Murphy, performing with the Evergreen Players (top); a scene from Murphy's Heaven?s a Nude Beach, now playing in Evergreen (above); and Klones Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon taking off.Send in the klones: Jimy Murphy, still crazy after all these years.
We're with the band (from left): Kamikazi Klones Mike Lenz, Mark Hopkins, Jimy Murphy, Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon backstage at the Rainbow Music Hall before opening for the Motels.
We're with the band (from left): Kamikazi Klones Mike Lenz, Mark Hopkins, Jimy Murphy, Mark Hagen and A.J. Coon backstage at the Rainbow Music Hall before opening for the Motels.


On opening night, Murphy is no longer nervous. "I've been nervous for two weeks," he says. "Now I'm just numb."

And excited -- he wants to see the crowd's reaction: "I may need to throw it all out and start over, but I think it's a great concept. And if it's not a great play now, it will be in the future."

Murphy pauses, then laughs. "If not, it will be really fucking embarrassing."

After all, his work is finally center stage again -- long after other Colorado bands like the Subdudes and Big Head Todd and the Monsters made it to the bigtime. But he can't help but feel that the Klones helped pave the way for those groups. The Klones played again this past summer in Evergreen. It wasn't one of their better performances, Murphy admits; in fact, it may truly have been the final farewell.

Murphy's ready to move on. He's daring to hope that this play will do well enough that other theater groups will produce it. And if not, he has a half-dozen other ideas he's already started to develop. In the meantime, he's still teaching at the charter school and was recently awarded a 21st Century Learning Grant from the federal government to support such after-school projects as mentoring and teaching theater.

The lights come up on the rock formations, the sound of waves in the background. This time, the joggers enter on cue. And then other characters appear in turn, all wrestling with their own concepts of morality, wondering whether to join the unseen inhabitants of Heaven or remain where they are, which some describe as Hell. The joggers. The "Euro circus" couple. Twelve-year-old boys, one of whom will take the plunge into manhood because he's "got hair" you-know-where. A pregnant young woman struggling with two toddlers. Goth teenagers. Senior citizens. An actress. A cop who discovers his daughter on the beach. An uptight Catholic woman. And "the mad monk of Morgantown" -- Freeman O'Brien, who delivers Shakespeare-sounding soliloquies on the nature of freedom and sex and morality.

Although Heaven's a Nude Beachneeds work -- the speeches are sometimes overlong and overdone -- the humor stands out, and the audience laughs often. One of the crowd-pleasers is a scene in which the young goth girls, who are considering going to the beach, talk with the uptight woman and her more liberal Jewish husband, who disagrees with his wife's demands that the beach be closed because "nudity is sinful in the eyes of God."

"Is it dangerous?" the girls ask when the woman warns them about going any farther.

"Are you Catholic?" the husband asks.

"Your mothers would not want you to go there," the wife sniffs.

"But we're Lutheran," the girls reply.

In the end, the play, which repeats this weekend, rates a standing ovation. And if no one cries "Author, Author," it doesn't really matter. Jimy Murphy is back.

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