Michael Scholar, Jr. - Stage Performance of Screeching Weasel's Baby Fat: Act 1 (Cover Artwork)

Michael Scholar, Jr.

Stage Performance of Screeching Weasel's Baby Fat: Act 1 (2016)

live show

          On July 22, 2016, I caught the second stage performance of Screeching Weasel’s rock opera Baby Fat: Act 1. The show was directed by Michael Scholar, Jr. with music and lyrics by Ben Weasel and presented by La Mama Theater Club in association with Columbia Stages in NYC. It’s based on Verdi’s classic opera Rigoletto. I brought my girlfriend who knows nothing about Screeching Weasel except what the cover of My Brain Hurts looks like and that it’s one of my favorite records. She enjoyed the show and claimed to like it more than other plays she had been to. I started the night by telling her there wouldn’t be many people there and the dude from the band probably wouldn’t be there. We then proceeding to walk into a packed house, grab a seat in the center of the last row, and end up sitting about eight seats away from Ben Weasel.

         There was a small stage/floor area with a drummer, bassist, guitar player, and guitar/keyboard player set up on risers behind the actors. The band was tight. They sounded good and executed all the songs. I didn’t recognize anyone besides Mike Hunchback from Night Birds playing guitar. The singing and acting was also done well. One aspect of the stage show I liked was hearing some of the actors with really nice singing voices sing Ben’s Melodies. Especially the actress who sang "Thine Eyes of Mercy." That one sounded great. Ben writes some beautiful melodies. By far the best part of the whole thing was the libretto projected on a large screen behind the actors and musicians. This was crucial to understanding the play. One could process every word the actors were singing. Even if the sound in the room would over power the vocals, everyone was able to follow what was going on.

          When I first listened to Baby Fat: Act 1 last year I was expecting it to be like a concept album. It wasn’t, I didn’t really get into it, found a few tracks I liked, and moved on. But it really is an opera. That’s something I didn’t know how to listen to. It’s a much different experience than an album and at the time I didn’t understand how to digest it. The stage show changed that for me. Using the libretto to follow the story is definitely how the LP was intended to be consumed. The stage show was really cool and it can be appreciated by anyone looking for something to do, not just fans of the band or punk rock in general. Now that I properly know the story I am excited for Act II.