Important facts about Patrick Swayze: His professional debut was as a Disney parade dancer, he was named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine almost 20 years ago and in 1989 he starred in the hilariously awful movie Road House wherein he “lives like a loner, fights like a professional and loves like there’s no tomorrow.”
Important facts about Patrick Swayze: His professional debut was as a Disney parade dancer, he was named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine almost 20 years ago and in 1989 he starred in the hilariously awful movie Road House wherein he “lives like a loner, fights like a professional and loves like there’s no tomorrow.” Does it get much better than that?
Road House is, for obvious reasons, something of a cult classic. It features boobs, tai chi, blind blues musicians and Swayze ripping a man’s throat out with one hand, not to mention a slew of priceless one-liners. It plays often on late-night and mid-afternoon cable television. And as of January 2010, it inspired Portland comedians to stage incredibly popular satirical play on its honor.
After watching Road House for the nth time, local comedian and founding member of the improv group The Liberators (several of whose members are performers in this show), Shelley McLendon, decided to adapt her favorite bad movie to the stage. She found the original film script (sans stage directions) online and teamed up with Courtenay Hameister, host and head writer of Live Wire!, to write stage directions and fight sequences, adapting it to the stage.
Where better to see a play about a piss-hole dive bar and the feisty bouncer (though he prefers to think of himself as a “cooler”) who cleans it up than an Old Town bar? Perhaps an amalgamation of Pop-A-Top Pub and the Sandy Hut would be a more appropriate setting for Road House: The Play!, but the Someday Lounge and its performers make an effort to represent the movie’s infamous bar, the Double Deuce, in all its dirty glory.
While the audience takes their seats, cast members brawl, catcall and harass each other—all in good fun, but convincingly enough to make some audience members nervous. This is only stage one of the hilariousness.
The play opens with live music by Jonathan Newsome (as Cody, our blind blues musician) and Scott Weddle, with narration by Courtenay Hameister. The enthusiastic and well-done performances by these three cast members are what stand out as Road House: The Play!‘s greatest assets. Hameister is deadpan throughout, until her awesome scene with Wade Garrett (played by Michael Fetters), an office-chair-turned-motorcycle prop and a hand fan. Her googly eyes are one of the funniest bits in the play.
Fetters is also an enthusiastic cast member who clearly loves to be hamming it up on stage. Nicholas Kessler (playing three parts: Emmett the farmer, auto parts store owner Red Webster and a big-haired, unnamed bouncer), Ted Douglass (as millionaire town-terrorizer Brad Wesley) and creator McLendon (as Dalton’s love interest, Dr. Elizabeth Clay) also deserve nods for their energy and barely-repressed grins.
Somehow, even though most of the cast is excellent, the chemistry between the actors seems strained. Characters also need something to do while Newsome sings about them. The addition of original songs is a great idea, but it often leaves actors with a dead stage presence.
Road House: The Play! sells out, so buy your tickets online and show up early to get a decent seat. This is fairly painless protocol, as you are in a bar and may order as many drinks and fried appetizers as you please.
Definitely be sure to rent the movie before you go. There’s no better way to remember the late, great Patrick Swayze, or to procrastinate the weekend before finals.