Road House: The Stage Version Of The Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From The 80's Cult Classic "The Last Dragon" Wearing a Blonde Mullet Wig*
In 2003, director Tim Haskell adapted and staged an Off Broadway version of the 1989 Patrick Swayze vehicle, Road House, the story of a bouncer who comes to town to tame the wild patrons of the Double Deuce bar.
Are you serious?
For every film adaptation for Broadway that has flopped (Carrie, Urban Cowboy, and Saturday Night Fever), there's the prospect of another smash like The Lion King, The Producers or Hairspray wooing investors.
Director Haskell says:
I have no intention of camping this up. The film on stage, trust me, will be enough. Although there will be some distinct stylistic choices, this is not a musical (we're calling it a 'brawlsical'--everywhere there is typically some camp musical number we have a fight), tongue-in-cheek (overtly), or a drama (certainly not). Trust me, I know what kind of film this is. I want to get to the bottom of why so many seemingly smart people can quote lines from this film.
"Pain don't hurt."
Tim Haskell and his actor friends wanted to stage "populist" theatre. The idea for a live version of Young Guns II was floated, before they settled on the 1989 Patrick Swayze vehicle, Road House. He attempted to get the rights to the screenplay (which was not available... Haskell transcribed the DVD to make a script), with both MGM and Joel Silver insisting that they didn't hold the rights, and that the screenwriter had changed his name and disappeared (Haskell eventually found the man, who granted the stage rights with the stipulation that his name not appear anywhere in the stage version).
"It'll get worse before it gets better."
Haskell wanted a real 1980's celebrity to appear in the show. Patrick Swayze, apparently, was busy... or too expensive. While doing research on the Web site, 80's Movie Rewind, he re-discovered a kickboxer, Taimak Guarriello, star of The Last Dragon (1985). (No, I don't remember it either). Guariello, who had been making a living as a personal trainer (for celebs like Sporty Spice and Madonna) agreed not only to take the part, and to choreograph the fights, but also to wear a blond mullet during the entire show. (Fans of the movie may complain--as Swayze was not a blond, but audiences aren't complaining). And his acting? "Guarriello's line readings waver between rabid menace, ethereal disconnection and bland seriousness." (Time Out New York)
"I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."
There are no song and dance numbers in the movie. So why add them just for the New York theatre crowd?
Time Out New York applauded their choice:
Guarriello's fight choreography is impressively complex. In any given sequence, up to ten actors in harnesses and bungee cords are ricocheting off trampolines or making athletic head kicks at each other while breakaway tables shatter and fake vomit flies. It's like watching Jerry Bruckheimer go Off-Off Broadway.
The show also includes live foley artists, who smash and drop things on a table to enhance the sounds of the stage fights. There is also live video projection behind the actors, featuring miniature models, in order to re-create the film's exterior sets, as well as car crashes and explosions.
The show opened in New York Off-Off Broadway October 22, 2003, at La Tea, and ran for four sold out weeks. Sam Elliott's role in the movie as the veteran bouncer Wade Garrett is now played by Giusseppe Agostaro, and Dr. Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch in the film) is portrayed by Rachael Roberts. In December, the show moved to Off Broadway, at the Barrow Street Theatre, where it will play through February 8, 2004. (Online ticket buyers can get a discounted price of $19.89 (the year of the movie) by using the code "MULLET" ).The only apparent change for this run is a "director's cut" of the main brawl, extended now by one and a half minutes. In additio to Haskell and Guariello, the creative team includes Rebeca Ramirez (choreography) and designers Paul Smithyman (set), Angela Sierra (lighting), Huck Dill (wigs) and Mark Cannistraro (sound).
* Actual full title of the stage production.
Internet Movie Database. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098206> (8 January 2004)
Road House Web site, <http://www.roadhousetheplay.com/index.html> (8 Janauary 2004)
Timothy Haskell, interview. nytheatre.com. 28 October 2003. <http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/voiceweb/v_haskell.htm> (8 Janaury 2004)
Gil Jawetz. "Pain Doesn't Hurt." DVDtalk. <http://www.dvdtalk.com/cinemagotham/archives/002076.html> (8 Janaury 2004)
Kenneth Jones. "Mullets and Martial Arts." Playbill.com. 9 December 2003.
<http://www.playbill.com/news/article/83207.html> (8 January 2004)
Maria Knapp. "Roadhouse Review." About.com. <http://theater.about.com/cs/offbroadway/fr/roadhouse.htm> (8 January 2004)
Ian Mount. "Bouncing Back." Time Out New York. 30 October 2003. <http://www.timeoutny.com/theater/422/422.theat.roadhouse.ope.html> (8 Janaury 2004)