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Curiocity: A Rockin’ History Lesson At ‘MudShark’

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

Sara Boyd Sara Pelissero
Sara Pelissero joined the WCCO web team in August of 2009. You can...
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If someone would’ve told me yesterday that I was going to a show in a bowling alley, full of Nazi jokes, heroin references and even a PBB & J tasting (the extra “B” stands for bacon – yes, bacon), I would’ve promptly taken them to the nearest rehab facility.

But low and behold, such a show actually exists – and, shockingly, that’s just the top of the list. The new “MudShark” musical, a product of Michael Todaro and Dan Nycklemoe, opened Thursday night in the homey comforts of the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, promising a night of crazy history, useless facts and oh yes, a deeper look into that all-too-familiar tagline, “Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.”

On first glance, it had the iffy chance of being a bad cover band with a few rock trivia questions a la “I Love the 80s” thrown in. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. Kicking things off with a classic trip on the Ozzy Osbourne Express, “MudShark” infused the performance with the history lesson. It was more like “Pop-Up Video” in the way that while showing entertaining photos of Mr. Oz, the facts of this seemingly invincible man were sprinkled throughout like some kind of kick-ass PowerPoint presentation.

The show went from one rock legend to the next, picking out urban legends or extremely disturbing groupie facts (thanks Rod Stewart) to highlight along the way. I’ll admit, “MudShark” was in its element during the rockers of the 70s and 80s and to be honest, infusing pop stars, i.e.: Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson felt a bit off track.

Perhaps that’s only because the stories of these Top 40 record makers – wearing a meat dress and um, having a frightening face timeline (may he rest in peace) just can’t hold a candle to the messed up stories coming out of the tour buses and hotel rooms of rock stars.

I thought the show was definitely at its best when it was simply telling these sinful tales on screen through the custom animation schemes of quotations and historical lessons, while performing the artist’s song that seemingly matched the saga.

Sure, it was tough to see the fun facts through the standing performers at times, and yeah, a few songs seemed to drag on a little long without the mystical fade wipes on screen to hold my attention (though that could just be a self-diagnosed case of A.D.D.), but all in all, I enjoyed the performance and all it had to offer.

Including the star performers, Matt Riehle and Katy Hays, who had the vocals to thoroughly – and pitch-perfectly – pay homage to each of the rock gods and the band that played in-tune, near-CD replicas of each song.

It’s true, however, that this is not a perfect show … yet, anyway. It fully admits in the program to being more of a work-in-progress, asking for audience feedback and ways to improve in the hopes of creating a future large-scale production. But nevertheless, it’s 100 percent entertaining.

Between the song choices, the snarky commentary within the fun facts and the self-loathing that is peppered throughout the often humiliating skits, the show will at the very least give you an hour of delight.

And like I mentioned before, I dare you to find me another show that has the promise of Led Zeppelin’s sexcapades, the possible death of a Beatle and a “How’d they kill themselves?” interactive game all performed by just two singers and a four-piece band. No? Can’t do it? Guess you’d better go check this one out then.

Performances of “MudShark” are at 10 p.m. (doors open at 9:30 p.m.) Saturday, Nov. 6, Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13 at Bryant Lake Bowl. Tickets are $15. For more information, click here.

Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.
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