James and Ted Rado, who contributed to the phenomenal Hair have written a rock musical called Rainbow which opened last night at the off-Broadway Orpheum Theater. It is apparently intended to be more or less a satire, but there are moments when I thought it has delusions of being a kind of "Via Galctic" (sic) and it is always frantic and ear-splittingly noisy. It would be a gross exaggeration if I said that I cared for it.
It can be said for Rainbow that it has the most tirelessly energetic cast in town. They dart frenziedly about the stage on two levels and rush violently up and down the aisle, endangering the audience but appeasing it by handing out apples and bananas. They also use microphones to sing through, which shows that they fail to appreciate the dynamic strength of their own voices.
There seems to be the veiled hint of a story. I gathered that the setting is a rainbow, where the Rainbeams are putting on a radio show. The characters are dead and include jesus, and Buddha and, of all people, Romeo. Christ wears a crown of thorns that lights up. Then a young soldier who was killed in Vietnam is brought back to consciousness and is understandable puzzled as to where he is.
Once he has got his bearing, the soldier says he wants to go to Washington and ask the President why he had to die. he meets the President who, probably because the show didn't want to be too definite, is smoking a cigar. Whoever he may be, the President is impressed by the youthful veteran and tells him he will oblige him by stopping the war at once. The answer apparently satisfies him.
But the Rado music is the mail thing, and there are scores of songs. They bear such titles as "Bathroom", "People Stink", "Oh I Am A Fork", "Guinea Piggin", and "Moosh". In one lyric line I heard a lover tell his sweetheart "I want to make you cry" which didn't sound very romantic to me. Most of them are more raucous than tuneful, but I liked a quietly melodious one called "Oh, Oh, Oh".
The names of some of the actors seemed more interesting
than they were. Among them are those who bill themselves as Meat
Loaf, Philip A.D., and Camille. They may not be very exciting performers
but they have a tremendous store of energy. I might not have disliked
the show as thoroughly as I did if I hadn't remembered there was once a
beautiful musical drama by Vincent Youmans, Oscar Hammerstein II and George
S. Kauffman that was also called Rainbow.
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