Losanjealous Reviews The Black Rider

LAAAAAAA! the black rider the casting of the magic bullets LAAAA! at the ahmanson through june 11Let me explain to you in a nutshell what’s going on in The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets at the Taper Ahmanson. I’m going to need to explain it to you, because unless you’ve recently read Faust, are currently studying German Expressionism and are enrolled in Cirque Du Soleil’s Academy of Morbid Clowns, you probably aren’t going to get it.

A clerk or accountant or maybe Benny from Benny and Joon (Matt McGrath) is forced to broker a deal with the devil (Vance Avery as “Pegleg”) in order to win a marksmanship contest and the hand of his sweetheart (Mary Margaret O’Hara). Apparently, this guy can’t hit the broad side of a barn and wastes his devil bullets on impressing his sweetheart and her family by killing a bunch of deer and leaving the carcasses (stuffed animals) in their home. By now, the marksmanship contest is drawing near and homeslice is out of bullets. Instead of actually practicing (who knows…it may be hopeless), he goes to the devil and asks for a couple more bullets. Pegleg is happy to oblige him, but warns that some bullets will hit the clerk’s target while some will hit the devil’s. Oh brother. At this point, you know things are going to go south quickly.

Although you probably can guess what’s going to happen, the final scene is played out in extreme slow motion….like you’re watching a stop-frame animated film slowed down to one frame per second. The performance ends with McGrath being hauled off presumably to a lunatic asylum because he’s gone stark raving mad! … kind of like I felt like I was going to as the final scene dragged on and on.

I don’t know if this is a musical, an opera, a rock opera, a musical fable or Nosferatu meets Beetlejuice the musical. Whatever it is, it’s confusing, vague and at times too long. That being said, it’s visually stunning with music that fits seamlessly with the mood and Woah! Who knew William S. Burroughs could sound so much like a sinister Dr. Seuss. It’s definitely an experience worth seeing, but know what you’re getting into.

Take the following little test to rate your predicted enjoyment level. Anyone scoring over a 20 should run (not walk) to the Ahmanson:

Fan of musical theatre +4
Fan of the rock opera +4
Are chaotic evil +10
Narcoleptic -5
Shop at Hot Topic +8
Tom Waits Fan +6
Stickler for linear narrative -18
Scared of mimes -8
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of your favorite films +10
Hate Marilyn Manson -4
Hate Tom Waits -6
Been wondering how Beetlejuice is aging +12
Secretly like Dead or Alive…the band +7
Forgot your drugs -12

The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets
Through June 11
Ahmanson Theatre
Get Tickets Now
The Black Rider Soundtrack (1993 Studio Cast)