A tough subject can still entertain

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Several months ago, I asked to be allowed to cover this work-in-progress project and write about it. I’m grateful to Sarah O’Connell, founder of EatMoreArtVegas.com, for giving me the green light.

Sarah has said a number of times that “art educates, art brings important matters to the forefront. We are what we eat, so eat more art.” This is why she started the site when the Las Vegas Review-Journal ceased covering the arts in our community.

Film and theatre are the two best conduits for broaching tough subjects and delivering them to the masses. No books, nor magazines, nor newspapers can match the fire and emotion of theatre or film. Theatre makes it more immediate, more…personal.

Theatre in Las Vegas has come a long, long way in recent years; particularly in fostering new works. But to bring such fare to life is a daunting task. It’s arduous. It takes perseverance, dedication, and love of craft. It takes knowing your subject and knowing it well.

Arizona playwright Loren Marsters knows his subject. He knows it all too well. And, he’s been on this writing journey for more than nine years. It’s been a tough road filled with readings, rewrites, and more readings followed by more rewrites. Now, with the assistance of many in our theatre community, “Domestic Violence: The Musical?” is about to be delivered in Las Vegas.

But, who would want to see something so…uncomfortable to watch? And, a musical for God’s sake? I’ve read the script. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s filled with a vast, eclectic score with lyrics that will make you laugh and make you think.

Marsters has assembled a fine cast and brought on John Fluker, who wrote the score and has played with greats like Gladys Knight, as his musical director. Ann McNinch, of The Dance Center, is the choreographer. I’ve stopped in to rehearsals and spoken with his cast members. Not surprisingly, the majority of them are quite familiar with the subject matter. Only two say they have never known an abuser, or a victim, in their lifetimes. As Karen Driggers, one of the actors put it, “They are the fortunate few.” But, I’d be willing to bet that if they thought about it, paid close attention, they’d realize they do.

One in four women and one in seven men is a victim of domestic abuse. Those are the reported numbers. Imagine if all victims were brave enough to come forward when it happens. It would seem impossible that any living person doesn’t know a victim. Yet, victims—not surprisingly—remain silent out of shame and out of fear.

As a victim, how do you join a project like this? Doesn’t the trauma come to the forefront each and every time? Evidently. Martsers has had to find replacements for several parts, several times. Driggers says she has left some rehearsals an emotional mess but sticks with it because, at the same time, she feels a healing process taking place. This is what theatre can do.

For Fluker and T.C. Urquhart – those two lucky guys – were drawn to this project first by the music. Fluker, first as a musician for the challenge of mixing genres and then the message of the profound script dug its nails into him. As an award-winning singer-songwriter, T.C. also found the music to be the initial inducement. Then, the book and lyrics took hold.

The surprising thing about this show is that it doesn’t preach, it doesn’t make one rend collars, it doesn’t exact a punishment. It does, hopefully, open your eyes to the world around you. I hope you’ll take the chance to attend one of the performances. I promise it isn’t bitter horror. It will be thought-provoking, as good theatre always is, but it will be very entertaining, as well.

What: “Domestic Violence: The Musical?”

When: 7:30pm Friday and Saturday, November 9 and 10

Where: The Dance Center, 3686 East Sunset #105.

Tickets: $20 - $25


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