Luigs and Warrender have imagined a startling theatrical "what if," portraying the mythical gods, demi-gods, heroes, and villains who inhabit Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk (the 19th century German composer's term for a unified art work) as gun-toting, guitar-slinging cowboys and gals crooning out their miseries in a country-Western twang. The authors have exchanged the Wagnerian practice of sung speech alternating with arias for dialogue interspersed by a series of songs that help to explain the complex relationships between the characters. (Perhaps a number such as "I'm My Own Grandpa" would have helped, given the unsavory family affairs that animate the ancient myths on which Wagner based his work).
Das Barbecu opens with the upbeat number: "A Ring of Gold in Texas," which sets the carnival-like tone for the entire show and serves to explain the quest for the magic ring that drives the action. The score includes such hilarious ditties as "Hog-Tie Your Man," an advice-to-the-lovelorn ballad, and the romantic "Slide a Little Closer," which envisions Siegfried and Brunhilde gliding along the dance floor in a Texas two-step waltz.
You don't need to be an opera buff to have a terrific time at director Rick Lombardo's fast-paced production, although some of the laughs at odd places came from folks who obviously knew their Nibelungun. Lombardo has been well-served by his collaborators: Steven Bergman as musical director, keyboardist, and conductor of the backstage orchestra; Ilyse Robbins as choreographer; designer Janie E. Howland, who contributes as the backdrop a splendid blown-up map of Texas with Wagnerian geography dropped in; and Eduardo Sicangco's costumes from the Off-Broadway production.