Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dagmar: No reason to get bugged

The swarm of Dagmar fans is undoubtedly bugged-but-not-especially-surprised by the news that there’s still nothing behind Door No. 3, the much-anticipated, long-promised third edition of  what we like to call Jim Bauer's Insect Chronicles. You know? Depressed-boy-meets-insect-goddess. A stirring, of sorts. Issues arise and, and ... and taking a dramatic turn on the follow-up, Door No. 2, buzzing toward reality, including what happens to the real-life band and and .... And Dagmar, the Beverly-based, New York-hardened band fronted by Bauer and lit up, like a lightning bug, by Meghan McGeary, with her goggles, flight gear, cute little wings and soaring voice ... the band has been, um, let’s say a little optimistic about getting that third disc into our grubby little hands for a while now, so, as Bauer admits on the band’s web, there’s no particular reason to believe them now that the album is almost done. No, really, it is.  But there is good news on the Dagmar —  or, as Stephen Colbert might have it, Dagmarish —  front, as “The Blue Flower,”  a bit of musical theater that combines pre-war Berlin cabaret decadence  and ... well, country and western lyricism hits the stage. No? Think Weill working with Merle Haggard rather than Brecht. American Repertory Theater will be taking the production around the block as part of its new season, right about the time that the playwrights — the husband-and-wife team of Jim and Ruth Bauer — set up shop as visiting artists at Harvard.

Lots of interesting things about this show. It was indirectly responsible for the formation of Dagmar, putting Bauer and McGeary together for the first time, when the one-who-would-become Insect Goddess joined the Blue Flower cast in 2001. It was picked for the first New York Music Theatre Festival in 2004 and was a finalist for the 2005 American Academy of Arts & Letters Richard Rodgers Award, but with seven actors, a tech-heavy video component — “and no commercial potential,” Bauer adds — the project ultimately collapsed of its own artistic weight. Which was fine. Bauer was eager to get back to music. The show also introduced the world to Babblespeak, or, as Bauer sometimes calls it, “Maxperanto.” It sounds vaguely German, but it is a completely made-up language. It’s his nod to the Dadaists, who concluded — accurately, it turns out — that language has become so completely corrupted that it is nearly useless as a vehicle for communication. On “Door No. 1,” Bauer sings “Babylon,” a gritty blues number, in Maxperanto. Sometimes during interviews, when asked for an explanation, he gives long, complex answers in the made-up tongue, with McGeary translating.

The show will run from  Dec. 2 to Jan. 8 at ART’s Loeb Drama Center. The new album should be done by then. No, really! Besides, if you need to scratch that Dagmar jones, you can check them out Memorial Day weekend at In a Pig’s Eye, 148 Derby St., Salem. The Dagmar Duo will perform from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. May 29. There’s no cover, but they’ll be passing around the hat. Hey, even insects have to eat.  Questions? Check out Dagmar’s web or call 978.741.4436.

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