Last Wednesday I saw The Transport Group’s production of SEE ROCK CITY at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street. The Transport Group is known for doing different things (the #1 thing I regret seeing most of all last year was their production of Boys in the Band staged in an apartment). I went into it knowing nothing, except that I had an inclination that it wasn’t going to be your typical experience in a theatre (spoiler: I was right!).
When the house opened, we were told to stand on the perimeter of the square shaped box of a theatre and not sit yet, which was good because there were no seats yet!) There was a pile of lawn chairs in a pile in front of the box where the band stood at the back corner. Eventually the cast came out and started walking around, and dismantling the lawn chair-Christmas tree, making room the audience and then once we were seated, they went around and asked us to please turn off our cell phones, etc.
When the lights went down, cast members set out a chair and put out a string of lights to resemble, somewhat, a diner. In the first sequence, Bryce Ryness plays a 20-something who is on his way to go see Rock City after seeing all the signs along the highway (like the one above). He sings about this and by the end has convinced the waitress who is serving him that she should go too.
There were a dozen other sequences that played out in the course of an hour and forty five minutes that were all about people going somewhere, or going through something semi-life altering.
The writing was entertaining, thought provoking, engaging, but pretty disconnected. I’m still not sure what the link was between all of these vingnettes and I’ve been racking my brain for two days. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m glad I got to experience SEE ROCK CITY.
The cast was also fantastic and was a great ensemble. They narrated the scenes and changed the sets and lighting for each other, and were all immensely talented. Aside from Bryce Ryness, the cast included Stanley Bahorek, Donna Lynne Champlin, Jonathan Hammond, Ryan Hilliard, Mamie Parris, and Sally Wilfert.
SEE ROCK CITY plays through August 14th, more information can be found here.