This week, one of St. Louis' most prolific playwrights, Christopher Jackson, puts his latest work, South Beach (not to be confused with South Park), on the stage. Jackson's new musical takes place in Miami during the White Party Weekend, a giant party for South Beach's gay community. Inspired by the Andrew Cunanan/Gianni Versace murder case, the story follows the arrival of a new South Beach resident, Matthew Bogosian (played by Jesse Lawson), who moves to the city looking for his piece of the pie. In a culture that's built on style rather than substance, a high-profile murder steals the headlines but the party must go on, for depression turns away tourism. Though murder isn't the typical topic for a musical, Jackson describes his play as "black humor, pushing the outside of the envelope." With characters named Winn and Dixie (played by Daniel Arns and Kelly Scaggs, respectively), expect a few tongue-in-cheek gags to soften some of the blows. But despite its humor, South Beach depicts a frustrated individual trying to rise above a pathogenic upbringing. It's a tale full of the warning signs of tragedy, set to a Ricky Martin-inspired soundtrack.
Jackson has thrown himself into production of his play, writing the script, music and lyrics while directing the actors and music and playing keyboard in the South Beach band. Jackson's plays are always intended to elicit an extreme reaction from theatergoers, but with this show he hopes to surpass all previous endeavors and leave the audience shocked. The play is billed as being intended for mature audiences, so leave the kids at home.
South Beach is previewed, at a discounted ticket price ($10), on Thursday, July 15, then runs at full price ($15) Thursday-Sunday through July 25 at the St. Marcus Theatre, 2102 Russell Blvd.