Joe Iconis’s new chamber musical, Bloodsong of Love: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Spaghetti Western, now playing at Ars Nova, has its charms, but the two-act piece simply runs overlong for so slim a conceit.
In the show, “The Musician,” a traveling guitarist, falls for a seductive young fishmonger and marries her, only to have her abducted by the cruel Lo Crocodilo, a kazoo virtuoso. In those latter two words, you have the meat of this musical’s humor. Feisty, sneering Jeremy Morse wrests every drop of comic potential — as well as gobs of stage blood — from his role as the diminutive tooting terror.
Outgunning Morse — at least in the audience favorite department — is Lance Rubin as the Musician’s trusty sidekick, the childlike Banana. It’s a given that the simpleton will get all the best lines. Still, Rubin finds the sweetness in his character and plays him for real, never striving for effect. As a result, you await every pearl of inanity.
Earl William Morris could use a bit more swagger as The Musician, although it’s enough that, being tall and lanky, he looks the part. Moreover, his brotherly concern for Banana evinces a touching authenticity. MK Lawson is suitably lithe and come-hither as his beloved, Violetta, who guts a mean fish and likes to accessorize with entrails. (Not for nothing are the first two rows designated a reduced-price “splatter zone.”)
But the best singer in the bunch is Katrina Rose Dideriksen, who ably shoulders two roles: that of Banana’s belligerent wife and a whore whose boots unfortunately attract the covetous attention of Crocodilo. What the kazooist wants, the kazooist gets, so she spends the remainder of the play hobbling about on crutches, en pointe. Dideriksen is one of those powerhouse sopranos who could raise the dead, and it seems like a long wait until her too-short solo, the penultimate number “Shoot ‘Em Up.”
Still, if you’re thinking of cutting out early, fortify yourself with some “good, old-fashioned neck oil” during the intermission and hang in there: There’s gold at the end of this grand-guignol show.