Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010


Rap musical, political parable, updated Greek tragedy, a reworking of Shakespeare's Othello — there's more going on in this ambitious musical than in a season's worth of run-of-the-mill Broadway tuners. A collaboration between composer-performer Matt Sax and Eric Rosen, artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Venice has been honed on the road (in K.C. and Los Angeles) before a possible stab at New York. Set in a mythical country emerging from 20 years of police-state oppression, the story centers on a populist hero who returns from exile to usher in a new era. The obvious political parallels to the Bush-Obama era are leavened by moments of passionate lyricism, helped by a wonderful score from Sax, who also serves as the lucid rapping narrator.