Of the many hats rock icon Courtney Love has worn throughout her career, musical theater star is not one to immediately pop into one’s mind. Nevertheless, Love’s incredible presence makes “Kansas City Choir Boy,” currently running at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City, a treat for the theatre’s intimate setup.
Aside from Love, the show also stars Todd Almond, who wrote the music and lyrics as well (he is the man behind the brilliant play “Girlfriend” which ran at the Kirk Douglas earlier this year). “Choir Boy” is a pop-opera of sorts that follows a couple in Kansas City who are torn apart when Love’s character, Athena, goes in search of her destiny before disappearing and later winding up dead in New York City.
Based on real-life events (Almond knew an actress who went missing and was eventually found dead in New York as well), the play was clearly emotional for Almond. The audience could feel the emotional baggage as he pulled from it for every song he belted out with a passion that could send goosebumps up one’s spine. The end of the show, in fact, even found him shedding some tears (to which Love could be heard asking him if he was ok after they took their final bows and headed off stage).
While the story may be emotional, it definitely wasn’t the strongest point of the play. In fact, the story was merely a means by which Almond could showcase his original music as well as the bevy of talent he gathered together for the production. In addition to Love and Almond, the show also featured six women, a “chorus of sirens,” who could not only sing and harmonize beautifully, but also dance and play musical instruments. Finding six talented triple threats must have no doubt been a difficult feat to accomplish and seeing these women showcase their skills live on stage is almost worth the price of admission in itself. In addition, there is also a live string quartet whose talent and musicality also makes the show even more special to watch.
For her part, Love’s voice is obviously not as classically beautiful as Almond’s or those of the Siren chorus. However, the emotion she puts into her vocals makes up for that, and her piercing rock voice does actually suit many of the songs. With a minimal set (the beautiful lights were the most elaborate part of the production), Love’s star power fills the tiny theatre as this legendary rock god literally bares all and delivers a performance unlike any of her past work. Indeed, “Kansas City Choir Boy” isn’t a game changer for the musical theater world, but its eccentricity as well as its showcase of talented artistry makes its mere one hour runtime definitely worthwhile to check out.
“Kansas City Choir Boy” can be seen at the Kirk Douglas Theatre through November 8th. Tickets can be found at https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/kansas-city-choir-boy/