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A CurtainUp Review
Bloodsong of Love

Nobody speaks our language anymore and every pint of blood is served with a sidecar of irony. But not here. Here, we take our blood straight. —The Narrator
Bloodsong of Love
(l-r): MK Lawson and Eric William Morris
(Photo: Peter James Zielinski)
April is shaping up to be quite a month for those who like bloody or ghoulish new musicals, with The Addams Family on Broadway, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Public, and now, Bloodsong of Love at Ars Nova. Bloodsong, billed as a Rock 'n' Roll Spaghetti Western, is the latest offering from the prolific composer/lyricist Joe Iconis, author of ReWrite, Things to Ruin and The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks. The charming new musical directed by John Simpkins is equal parts gruesome, zany, and heartfelt.

For those unfamiliar with the genre, spaghetti western is the term rfor the melodramatic and violent Italian westerns filmed in Europe in the 1960s. Like any good Western, Bloodsong of Love features a man looking for justice and love. He's a guitar-carrying outlaw known only as The Musician (Eric William Morris) who's searching for the villain (Jeremy Morse) who kidnapped his wife (MK Lawson) and had him sent to jail.

But don't get the wrong idea. Bloodsong of Love is more of a comic riff on the genre than a serious melodrama. Like other Iconis musicals it features a host of offbeat characters and wacky jokes. The fact that The Musician's best friend is a mustachioed Mexican dimwit named Banana (hilariously embodied by Lance Rubin) tells you everything you need to know about this musical's spoofish air. On top of that, there's so much blood and guts as to quickly become cartoonish and the audience members in the first two rows are given ponchos to protect them from being sprayed with blood.

All this gleeful goriness and bloodlust and off-color jokes add up to an immature feel that might turn off some audience members. On the other hand, the show is well suited to its the Arts Nova venue and Simpkins has made the most of the tiny space. He's also kept the pace brisk throughout and added some nice bits of physical humor. The scenic and costume design (by Michael Schweikardt and Michelle Eden Humphrey, respectively) feel straight out of a low-budget movie and are just as effective.

The performers, all of whom are Iconis vets, have energy to spare, great comic timing, and fantastic voices to boot. Especially noteworthy is Morris as The Musician who both embodies and lampoons the role of the lonesome hero.

What really makes this show work is Iconis's lively and melodious score. Numbers like "Shoot 'Em Up" and "The Friendship Song" will stick with you for days after seeing the show. That's not to say there's no room for improvement — for example, some of the songs like an out-of-nowhere number about sailing, feel a little out of place or overlong. But Iconis is clearly a talented composer who knows exactly how to tell a story in a original and appealing manner.

Bloodsong of Love was a commissioned work from Ars Nova and is the product of two years of development and collaboration. It's nice to see a writer as deserving as Iconis being given this kind of support, and one would hope he will ultimately be as successful as other Ars Nova vets like Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Gallagher Jr. and Jack McBrayer.

Bloodsong of Love
Book, Music and Lyrics: Joe Iconis
Director: John Simpkins
Cast: Katrina Rose Dideriksen (Whore in Boots, The Crone, The Wife of Banana), MK Lawson (Santa Violetta, Sofia), Eric William Morris (The Musician), Jeremy Morse (Lo Cocodrilo), Lance Rubin (Banana/Henchman Steve, Jason "SweetTooth" Williams (The Narrator, Weeping Eduardo, Earl, The Strange Man)
Lighting Designer: Chris Dallos
Costume Designer: Michelle Eden Humphrey
Scenic Designer: Michael Schweikardt

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with one intermission
Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), (212) 352-3101,
Tickets: $25; $10 student rush is available ten minutes before curtain, pending availability
From 4/1/10 to 5/9/10; opens 4/15/10.
Performance schedule through 4/18: Wednesday-Sunday at 8pm.
Reviewed by Julia Furay based on April 10th performance.
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Outlaw/Narrator/ The Outlaws
  • The Musician and Banana/The Musician, Banana
  • Find the Bastard/The Outlaws
  • Don't Ya Make Me Ask Ya Twice (Part I)/The Wife of Banana, The Musician
  • The Friendship Song/The Musician, Banana
  • Turkey Leg/Lo Cocodrilo
  • Turkey Leg (Reprise)/Lo Cocodrilo
  • The Bone Bar/Full Company
Act Two
  • Banana's Prayer/Banana
  • Lovesong of Blood (Covered in the Blood of Another)/The Musician, Violetta, The Outlaws
  • Last on Land/The Strange Man, The Outlaws
  • Shoot 'Em Up/Whore in Boots, Full Company
  • The Friendship Song (Reprise)/Full Company
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