Once upon a time I went to a show, and it was called Burning Bluebeard. It was really scary, and I loved the plot of it which was how they really wanted to make moonlight for the audience. There was a really cool soundtrack at the end that sounded like the Iroquois Theater fire itself. The Iroquois fire was a really sad time, and it is not a very funny thing because lots of children and grown people died. All the people that were sitting in the balcony all died because they were trying to make moonlight and the fire curtain was stuck on something and also on fire, so the whole balcony died. When they made moonlight, one of the set pieces caught on fire. And to make moonlight they used double awful electricity that was different from our electricity that we use today.
One of my favorite scenes was one that was like an old-fashioned cartoon--like the old-fashioned Mickey Mouse where nobody really talks. The clown (Dean Evans) was miming a butterfly catcher in love with a beautiful girl (Molly Plunk) who got taken away by Bluebeard (Anthony Courser) which made the butterfly catcher hang himself, but then this weird baby came along and untied him, walking along the rope in a baby kind of way. That was weird--but pretty awesome. I liked this scene a lot because it is so funny that this clown thinks that this happy baby thing looks like it is coming from the play about Bluebeard. I don't think any play about Bluebeard killing all his wives would have a baby untying somebody from a tree trying to help him not be so sad over Bluebeard taking a girl that he likes. At the end Eddie Foy (Ryan Walters) said, "What did that have to do with Bluebeard?" I think the clown wanted to put it in because he is trying to make himself actually the main character of something. The clown kind of doesn't want the people to die, but he kind of wants the fire because I think he kind of thinks, "This is our story, we can't make it anything else." It is a really sad story--more than 600 people died--but he wanted to make it interesting--he wanted it to be an exciting story.
There are sometimes funny parts in this show even though it is about the Iroquois fire which is a very sad thing. And this is one of the funny parts. The stage manager (Jay Torrence) is singing a song called Rehab. It is a woman singing Rehab and he really does a good job lip syncing. He is holding a baby doll with a baby bottle he is making it drink from. It is really funny, but also really kind of amazingly awful because the baby is supposed to be a real baby but he drops it on the floor. I think he is really supposed to do that--and that is just a little disturbing. I think the stage manager sang the song because he is trying to prove the clown wrong. The clown is trying to tell the stage manager that he can't actually do a show because the clown thinks he can do a better show than him.
In the scene where Nellie (Leah Urzendowski) is flying across the stage and is throwing out flowers, she is trying to make the people that come to the play have something they will remember for life. She really wants them to feel like there is somebody really special flying over their heads, that they really want to be seeing this. She likes it, so she really wants everybody else to like it. She is one of the characters that doesn't want anyone to get physically hurt. The performers really want to connect to the audience and make them happy and don't want to make them be angry at them because they did a bad show. They always want to do a good show so that the audience can remember that they went to go see the show. Bluebeard in real life was not a good show, but Burning Bluebeard is amazing.
I can't believe that the characters would leave you alone in the dark with a dead person and a creepy soundtrack. They just want theirselves to be safe, except for Eddie Foy because he wants his son to be safe. They kind of want you to feel not safe, but they kind of want you to not die. You kind of feel heartbroken that the characters don't really care about the audience, but you know it is not actually happening, but you kind of feel like it is really happening. Then they actually make you happy at the end.
I thought it was really super sad. It was really hard to talk about it because it was one of the saddest fires in the world. But they are mostly not talking about these more than 600 people dying. They are really talking about how they want to make moonlight because moonlight stands for happiness, and they want you to love the show. The actors want the audience to love the show.
They really changed the space so it really looked like the real Iroquois Theater after the fire. When I first came in I was expecting a stage like Barrel of Monkeys only without the monkeys, but the whole space was changed in a cool but creepy kind of way. When we walked in into the open room there were all these packaging-tape babies and hands. Hands because lots of people died and the hands were like sticking out of the walls. Whoever made those had to be a really good artist.
Halena Kays who directed this also directed Daredevil Hamlet. Daredevil Hamlet was also an amazing thing. They had a grown man ride a tricycle up on a ramp and jump off the ramp--the tricycle was like a motorcycle, and it was so awesome. And the man who played Ophelia held his breath underwater for a long long long time. She likes to have amazing tricks in her shows. In this show, the fairy came out of an amazingly small box eating potato chips. There were these three people, and they did back flips over and over each other.
I think Jay Torrence decided to have this play go on because I think he was very interested in the Iroquois fire and how the actors would feel about the fire and how they wanted to make moonlight for everybody but they couldn't. Instead they burned down the building. They feel very sad for all those people. I think he is interested in it because he wondered what it would be like to actually kind of be in the Iroquois fire. He gave the audience a feeling that they were actually there, which would scare them and make them like the show more. Like I said in my Walk Two Moons review, people think, "What is the use of going to see a sad show if it is going to be sad?" Because you actually don't feel that bad because it didn't just happen. It happened a long time ago, and it is not going to happen anytime in this century because we are more careful about the consequences of what might happen if they try to make real moonlight. So the scientists tried to make it so there would never be a fire like that again because we have better electricity now.The point of going to a sad play is that you feel happiness after because you've seen an amazing play and you know it has not actually happened. And you think of it as a dream, but you actually went to the play.
People that would like this show are people that like acrobatic tricks, history, tragedies, and moonlight. There wasn't a big smile on my face the whole time, but you still feel happy even though you are seeing something sad. I think this show should be for very brave seven year olds and up.
Photos: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent