April 8, 2012
By Katy Walsh
The Fourth Walsh
They’re called Bui-Doi. The dust of life, Conceived in hell, And born in strife. They are the living reminders Of all the good we failed to do. That’s why we know Deep in our hearts That they are all Our children too. -”Bui Doi” from Miss Saigon
Silk Road Rising presents the world premiere of Re-Spiced: A Silk Road Cabaret. This is not your Rodgers and Hammerstein cabaret! Re-Spiced is an eclectic medley of songs and verse. How would I describe this remix? Well, it’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. It has some Disney and some profanity. It gives a voice to Friedrich Nietzsche alongside Kinky Friedman. At times, it’s incredibly sensual. Other times, it’s in-your-face angry. It’s not a thoroughbred. It’s a hybrid and it’s built to go the distance! Re-Spiced is bursting with playful and political flavor.
Creator Jamil Khoury describes the show with ‘no genre left behind.‘ It’s funny and it’s true. Khoury has devised a robust playlist on this road trip to exotic lands. It’s all about diversity... musically, philosophically, symbolically, physically. Under the innovative direction of Steve Scott, the cast mirror Khoury’s melange. The high-energy and talented ensemble are various ethnics, ages, and sizes. Collectively, they homogenize and harmonize with soul searching purpose. When they sang “Bui Doi”, I became incredibly choked up. And during “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” I almost threw up. Extreme reactions because this show is about representing all different global perspectives. Poignant moments describe the casualties of war, hate and discrimination. And then an 80’s party pop song medley lightens up the mood. The frolicking cast ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ as they ‘Rock the Casbah’ ‘One Night in Bangkok.‘ The cast treats this show like a party. And they party hard. Their dance transition into ‘Turning Japanese’ is hilarious and exhausting-looking.
Khoury throws down the gauntlet. Choreographer Brenda Didier rises to the challenge. I kind of imagine Didier’s first reaction to Khoury’s ambitious playlist was ‘WTF?‘ But Didier fearlessly tackles the dance elements for the potpourri of musical numbers. It’s stylized Broadway musical chorus meets late night bar dancers with plenty of foreign flair overtones. Didier and Scott’s work fuses together for ongoing, seamless transitions. The entire show is one big melting pot of international experiences. The cast are this hearty stew of personalities and capabilities. It’s a tasty and substantial treat. One particular unforgettable spoonful is Christine Bunuan singing ‘They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” Singing and narrating it, Bunuan has adorable, white-trash, moxie.
“Advance a polycultural worldview” is Silk Road Rising’s mission. Re-Spiced takes the audience 10,000 feet off the ground to see the world from a different perspective. Where borders aren’t visible. Where foreigners are people. Where children are ours. We can’t forget, must not forget, That they are all, Our children too.