Karaoke as Metaphor

Community theater puts on hokey "interactive show" about "being in a karaoke bar." That's exactly what Sean Mahoney and Michael Emmitt of the new Horse & Cart production company did not have in mind for The Singing Room, an original script they'll reveal to the public tonight in the basement theater of Brooks Center Arts. Instead, this is the kind of looser work they hoped to share with audiences after leaving their old troupe, Spark Theater. And while it is indeed a play about karaoke, they hope that The Singing Room really feels like a night in an actual karaoke bar, with its resident barflies and all the drama and atmosphere that happens nightly at the real deal.

To that end, says Mahoney, who wrote the script, "the stories hop back and forth, and the action jumps around in the way a real bar situation would. There are no traditional scenes; everything bleeds together. It's like an environmental piece, in the sense that the bar is the stage for all the action." And the audience-participation part? "I had the insane logistical idea of adding participation," Mahoney continues. "The audience will be encouraged to sign up and sing. And since we're operating it like a real karaoke bar, we won't use the same songs every night. God only knows how that's going to go."

The ultimate message, he adds, will be something like real life, too: "You see all these normal people sitting there, and they look like they're working on their homework or something, and then they get up and bust into an AC/DC number. How does giving everyone a chance to be the star of their own video or scene in a musical tie into our regular fears and feelings of disappointment in life?" Find out when the The Singing Room opens at 8 p.m. tonight at Brooks Center Arts, 1400 Williams Street; performances continue Thursdays through Saturdays until May 18. For tickets, $12 to $18, go to horseandcart.co/products-page.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: April 27. Continues through May 18, 2013

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd