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Oct 07 2022
THE VILLAGE, A DISCO MUSICAL! Was Great — At Least, That's How I Remember It Comments (0)

7lZooetMWatch them burn, baby, burn! (Image by Eric McNatt)

On Thursday, I ventured to NYC's Dixon Place — where experimental theater has gone to live for over 30 years — to see the premiere of a new work by Nora Burns of Unitard and David's Friend.

The Village, a Disco Musical! has one of those disposable titles that makes you think of farce, but in fact, while as broadly funny as expected, this 60-minute show slowly reveals itself to have wit, fangs, a big heart and impressively fresh takes on nostalgia and death.

But again, the important part is: It's funny.

Aggressively narrated by a stage manager character (Glace Chase), who is always happy to shout out the subtext, set the scene or hit on one of the omnipresent go-go boys (Richard Schieffer, Valton Jackson), the show is centered around Trade (an effervescent and effortlessly sexy Antony Cherrie), a stacked hustler living the high life as a kept boy in the snazzy apartment of well-to-do queen Old George (Chuck Blasius) in the '70s.

JPWb69qsTrade doesn't mind closing his eyes to have sex with a 10 who has aged into being a 5, especially since it grants him the freedom to fall in love with a new boy every week. He's like Company's Bobby, except at 25. And for sale.

Trade's latest crush is Steven — not Stephen, never Steve. Played with charm and impressive physicality by Ever Chavez (he puts his dancing background to good use, even in non-dancing scenes), Steven is a wide-eyed, preppie NYU student who thinks Trade might just be the one. Yes, even the name Trade didn't tip him off.

Sadly, Steven and Trade's affair is only hours old when it's challenged by a neighborhood Afro-dite rising from Avenue C, the comely Jason (Antwon LeMonte). Which will Trade choose? Why must he choose at all?

76vuCzO0Burns, this. (Image by Jason Rodgers)

The one-act offers a series of robustly performed rom-com vignettes punctuated by disco breaks with unexpectedly serious movement (thanks to choreographer Robin Carrigan) and sometimes hysterically funny song selections. Perhaps the standout for me was when Trade's hag Lisa (Ashley Chavonne) physically scrolls through a laundry list of disco moves, prompted by the word “ass.” Chavonne's line readings as a borderline nerd are a riot, never more so than when she admits she can't compete with “cock.”

Another stand-out is Eileen Dover as sardonic drag queen Petey. Looking like Patti LuPone and channeling Bea Arthur, her one-liners mostly kill, and it was through her sarcasm I became attuned to the show's cheeky, fourth-wall-be-damned commentary on whether the old NYC really was better, or whether we just think it was.

This is where The Village, A Disco Musical! most surprises — Screen Shot 2022-10-07 at 12.09.21 PMBurns imbues it with humor far more delightfully savage than I was prepared for (Burns herself appears in a small but pivotal and wildly un-PC role that I refuse to spoil, it is so visually genius). The musical's insight is pretty incredible for one so short, and for one this long on laughs.

A final scene really makes you squirm before warming things back up, but this is a show that absolutely understands how to poke an audience in the ribs after tickling them, still managing to send us home with something to think about.

The Village, a Disco Musical! runs tonight, tomorrow and Thu-Fri-Sat of next weekend. Tickets and more info are here. See it if you ever uttered the phrase “you could never say that today” — or if you ever cringed when somebody else uttered it.