The mountain came to Mohammed. Cotton came to Harlem. Now Squonk comes to Broadway.
Squonk, a Pittsburgh-based theatre company, produced a show called Bigsmorgasbordwunderwerk at Off-Off-Broadway's P.S. 122 in late summer. The eccentric show received good reviews but was unable to find an appropriate theatre for an extended commercial run until it unexpectedly grabbed the coveted Helen Hayes Theatre after Epic Proportions closed. The show, now titled after the theatre company, began previews Feb. 8 and officially opens on Broadway Feb. 29.
Squonk was founded in 1992 as Squonk Opera, and has toured the U.S. and Canada extensively. Bigsmorgasbordwunderwerk is a mixture of performance art, opera, puppetry and food. It closed at P.S. 122 on Aug. 28, but not before a rave review by Ben Brantley, the New York Times' chief theatre critic, helped make it a sudden hot ticket. No doubt the producers' choice to risk a Broadway run was emboldened by the hopes that Brantley will again give the show high marks.
What is Squonk? Well... think of it as a cross between avant-garde theatre, performance art, physical comedy and modern dance, with elements of Twyla Tharp, Laurie Anderson, Blue Man Group, Riverdance, Enya and Julie Taymor cropping up throughout. If there's an actual plot, it involves the serving of a banquet, with the lead singer-dancer, Jana Losey, being eaten -- and digested -- by a giant monster. Sort of.
For a more in-depth look at Squonk, please see the PBOL feature story, "It Came From Pittsburgh: Downtown Devoured, Squonk Puts The Bite On Broadway," from whence comes this quote from cast-member Steve O'Hearn: "I don't mind that we offend people; I love when the audience gets grossed out, then laughs, then finds it beautiful."
For tickets and information on Squonk at the Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street, call (212) 239-6200.