When more than one friend takes me by the shoulders, stares wildly into my eyes and begs me to do something while shaking me I usually listen. So I saw Storm Large’s one-woman show Crazy Enough at Portland Center Stage (PCS) last night. I nearly missed it. I got my ticket during JAW and by then the show had been extended and regularly selling out.
Box Office: “All we have are matinee seats at this point.”
Me: “What about Friday night?”
B.O.: “All we have are matinee seats.”
Me: “Anything for Saturday night?”
B.O.: “Just matinee.”
Me: “How ’bout Sunday night?”
I don’t know what was wrong with me. Five whole minutes later I finally settled on a seat for he last matinee which happened to me coincide with the Hawthorne Street Fair and Sunday Parkways. My whole neighborhood was shut down for cyclists (a totally awesome Portland thing). But TC and the kids were caught up in the current and I found myself locked out of the house and my car, and unable to reach them. Twenty minutes before curtain I finally gave up and cried on the front stairs. The Universe did not want me to see Storm Large. I called the box office to release my seat (someone was obviously meant to go in my place). The very people I tortured told me to hold on and came back saying I could come to the 7:30 show! Oh, thank you, Universe! Thank you, thank you!
If it’s true that we become our names this one is a force of nature like Rain Big… or Shine Huge… Storm Large. To see this woman in this show in this city on closing night is something that’ll stay with me forever. There was a feeling that something important was happening. We were part of something bigger than us. She harnessed a cyclone of love, pain, and despair and converted it into electricity before our eyes. She threw it at us. We threw it back. The vast majority of us were first-timers. (People were turned away – it seems this show could have had an eternal run). We stood, sang, cheered, cried. It was as if a great, precious ship were setting sail and we, the lucky audiences of Portland, were there to see it off. Her most popular song, 8 Miles Wide, is a catchy, upbeat anthem for being your big bad self and/or letting your freak flag fly. It closes the First Act, so what you have are hundreds of sparkling people singing vagina lyrics in the lobby. Fantastic. It’s actually a grrrreat song. I can’t wait to play it on guitar. I almost have to teach it to my daughters (minus the bit about “even the hard core dykes love cock-shaped sex toys” only because 1. being eight and almost five they might miss the metaphor and 2. my oldest might link it to the funny vibrating “flashlight” in my nightstand and then I’d have to put it out of reach; I’m not ready for the inconvenience).
The back page of the Crazy Enough program is a photo of Storm Large and director (and PCS Artistic Director) Chris Coleman in a beautiful embrace. Paul Beaton, Crazy Enough co-writer (and member of Storm’s band, The Balls), is aglow in the background. The photo is the embodiment of collaboration – support, magic, artistic break-through. One cannot help but fall in love with this woman. She’s brilliant, brazen, ballsy and yet achingly vulnerable. Something makes us root for her. I don’t know where Crazy Enough is headed next. Broadway I presume. It’s a dark and flawless production teeming with kick-ass vocals that run the gamut from folk to rock, excellent acting, an awesome band and much more than eight miles of laughs. Props to Chris Coleman. I’ve seen many shows at PCS and they’re always well-done, but Crazy Enough blew me out of the water. If it weren’t for his encouragement and guidance this work wouldn’t exist. Wherever you are in the country, I’m shaking you by the shoulders and telling you, when it comes to your city you must figure out a way to see this show!