Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs I get to write some fodder
I don't always believe it
But I hope you need it.
(Sung to the tune of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire")
If you didn't attend one of the silver anniversary performances of "Cabaret" at Steamboat Mountain Theater last week, the opening of this column won't make a lot of sense to you. However, I'm hoping to strengthen your resolve to buy tickets before the 2009 performances are sold out. Because, frankly, you look like you could use a good laugh.
If you did take in the performance of Chris Walsh's clever rant, "Fodder," at Cabaret during the weekend, you probably laughed until you wept. I'm willing to bet you didn't laugh as hard as I did. I laughed until a salty river ran down my face and little bubbles came out of my nose.
The performance of "Fodder" reminds us that the news events we at the newspaper treat with such gravity all year long make incredible fodder for comedy skits. It's the kind of stuff a comedian could never make up if they made a pact with Satan.
Truth, indeed, is stranger than fiction.
In order to get a feel for the skit, you have to be able to recall the 1989 Billy Joel No. 1 hit, "We Didn't Start the Fire." Throughout the lyrics, Joel recited and sometimes shouted out major public figures and controversial events of the second half of the 20th century.
The chorus goes:
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning.
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it.
Walsh's Steamboat-specific adaptation included a chorus that started:
"We didn't write the fodder
We don't really need it
But we love to read it."
He and a cast that included Lynn Finkbohner, Pam Pierce, Nina Rogers, Eva Littlefield, Susan de Wardt, Emily Wickham, Katelyn Stokes, Tara Nagel, Marie Sellitto Jensen, Don Schwartz, Matt Stoddard and Paula Salky used Joel's adaptable song from 20 years ago to remind their audience to lighten up.
I laughed out loud through most of the two-hour "Cabaret" performance. Everyone around me went into hysterics over skits such as "Chronicles of Nerneya," "Lunatics" (sung to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"), "The Bone Ranger & Pronto," "The Banjo Lesson," "Starbucks Regional Marketing Meeting," "I'll Drink to That," and a tongue-in-cheek nature video "The Mountain Cranes."
The final show-stopper was the reggae not-so-classic "I Stopped the Sheriff," a musical tribute to Sheriff Gary Wall and his legal entanglements by local defense attorney Kris Hammond. It could only happen in Steamboat.
For 25 years, "Cabaret," hosted by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, has celebrated mud season in the Yampa Valley by roasting public figures and sacred cows. It's a wonderful way to remind us that we tend to take things a little too seriously in Ski Town USA.
I was struck by the notion that I and the rest of the audience were so amused Saturday night partly because we desperately needed to laugh. We needed to laugh out loud after a winter when the sun rarely made an appearance and the snow buried our homes; after a year when the physical appearance of our community began to change in dramatic ways.
Going into summer with the certain knowledge that our best community theater space is destined to be torn down, the laughter was cathartic.
Steamboat Mountain Theater owner Kelly Anzalone has the right idea. He's eager to start building an even better theater.