Went to another musical event in the Zofingen Performance Center (Stadtsaal). It was a tribute to the Beatles, so I figured I’d get the music, if nothing else. Surprisingly, I got much of the dialogue. The clear pronunciation and simple script made it easy to understand.
Here’s the plot: the head of an advertising agency named Beat (pronounced BayAht) Lessing. He is discouraged and fears failure if he doesn’t keep at least one client. All he needs is a winning jingle. His hard-working, put-upon secretary tries to help, but he doesn’t recognize her talent.
The rest of the plot deteriorates into incomprehensibility – much like the operas everybody talks about. But no matter, like opera, the dialogue scenes were interspersed with music, in this case, Beatles songs – in English to begin with, later in a crazy mix of German and English. If you’re having a hard time picturing this, think “Mamma Mia!”
After the secretary, we meet a nerdly, put-upon techie who helps the hero with computer stuff. The last and most entertaining of the cast is a gorgeous babe who wants a job and demonstrates her skills as a topmodel? a dancer? a singer? whatever Beat needs. He tells her to go away, he doesn’t have any money.
At some point one of the characters kicks a wall cabinet where Beat’s name is up in intermittently-lit lights. Naturally, the name Beatles shows up and there’s the idea! Do something related to the Beatles, but you can’t copy them. So they start brainstorming. The nerdly guy comes up with my favorite pun of the night, “How about ‘The Ballad of John and Yogurt?'”
Then they did their Big Number. They had recorded it on Nerdly’s cell phone and he rushed over to put it on YouTube. But they weren’t sure the computer was even working, so they forgot about it and did some more brainstorming.
As usual in mixed-nationality audiences (in this case me vs. everybody else) we saw humor in different places. So I loved the Yogurt bit, the rest of the audience laughed in other places. I really had to restrain myself during a phone call between Beat and a “Chinese” client. He answered the phone in a hilarious Sid Caesar moment. “Hai? Hai shang! Shanghai! Beijing! Ho Ho Ho Chi Min!” The Ho Ho Ho really brought back memories, not all pleasant, which made the joke funny and poignant at the same time.
As they sadly took off their costumes convinced they were failures, suddenly, “Click! click! click! click! click!” They figured out it was coming from the computer! Nerdly stared in surprise at the screen. “40,000 clicks!” he cried. The YouTube upload had gone viral! Somebody posted that they wanted this group to do some work for them. Saved!
I couldn’t tell how the rest of the audience liked the performance. There was no rolling laughter, only a few sedate chuckles. I think most of the audience members were teenagers when the Beatles first came on the scene. But they did that rhythmic clapping thing that means “Encore” in Europe and the cast came out and did their Big Number – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band.”
There was no standing ovation. OTOH, maybe they are a more discriminating audience than Americans, who seem to stand for anybody who has the nerve to get up on stage and do something.