Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Revisiting the Closet

When it comes to doing slightly off-kilter things with your time, Rebar knows whats up. Between the monthly editions of Spazz 360, the seizure-comparable dance competition, the new spelling bees, and the semi-pro wrestling, Rebar knows how to produce compelling content to get people off the couch and out to the club in the middle of the week. They've managed to one-up themselves this time though. For the next two nights (it opened Tuesday night, but well, time was being spanned elsewhere), the Brown Derby series is performing R. Kelly's opus, "Trapped in the Closet."

For some readers, no further explanation is required. Somehow though, people have missed out on the brilliance of this "hip-hopera," so we'll give some explanation and some spanning_time homework links for you to catch up.

"Trapped in the Closet" was released as a series of videos in late 2005. Each of normal music video length (3-4 minutes), the videos featured the singing of R. Kelly as he revealed an ever-sprawling tale of deceit and infidelity, the series beginning with his character in a bedroom closet, hence the title. Filled with dramatic twists and turns, the story was a little confusing, the instrumental a bit repetitive, but the story was no less engaging because of the vocals of R. Kelly. Pulling out every vocal trick in the book, Kelly sang the parts of all characters, pausing, exclaiming, and generally pulling you into the twisted tale. It was a great display of R. Kelly's musical focused insanity, all the while providing a distraction from the fact that he was accused of misconduct with a minor (misconduct here involving a fetish for watersports). The drama, currently at twelve chapters, was so over the top that it quickly gained meme status, popping up online and in various parodies.

There aren't many details about how the Brown Derby interpretation is going to work. Are people going to sing their own parts, or is there going to be some sort of narrator as in the videos? Is it going to be as straight as you can play it, or attempt to go even more over the top (a difficult task given the material)? Regardless of the answers, the Rebar performances should prove to be nothing but entertaining. Since the original is so bad it's good, and so good it's amazing, if the play does nothing but get the spirit right, that will be more than enough.

Your homework:
Chapters 1-5 of Trapped in the Closet - The beginning of the story... (you can find the other chapters on youtube)
Mad TV Parody - One of the funniest things you'll see this year.
South Park's "Trapped in the Closet" - This banned episode takes on Scientology and won't be re-aired on television, but also features some R. Kelly cameos to wonderful effect.

Extra Credit:
The Wikipedia entry - In case you really have to know all the details.


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