I’ve never been the groupie type and have never had the desire to know any more about musicians and entertainers than what they or their publicists’ wanted me to know. That is, until the ease and simplicity of Google came along. Now, in the blink of an eye I can find more trivia about people than I can absorb. The technology seems to make me crave more; it must be some kind of endorphin thing going on in the brain.
One of my latest Google searches was for Dee Snider, the lead singer for the heavy-metal rock ‘n’ roll band Twisted Sister; I Googled him because I was trying to figure out where his creative talents came from. Not that I’m not interested in the creative talents of Eddie Ojeda, or Mark Mendoza, or Anthony Pero, or for that matter French Segall: all members of Twisted Sister. But I was inordinately interested in Dee Snider because I saw a delightfully twisted Christmas play that he wrote and in which he starred. The play was a real departure from who I thought he was.
For years I thought Dee Snider and the rest of Twisted Sister was just a bunch of fun, crazy, rock guys; which they are. But there is more. Let me explain.
My wife and I were in Chicago visiting a new addition to our family: our new grandson. With four adults and three babies under four years of age in a condominium . . . my wife and I thought it would be nice to do a night out on the town so as to get out of everyone’s hair. We thought that dinner somewhere around Chicago’s famous Water Tower then some hot chocolate from Ghirardelli’s would make for a delightful evening. Our plan was to eat dinner, get some cocoa, sit out in the cold in the park under the “Water Tower” — one of the few buildings in the city that didn’t burn down in the great fire of 1871 — and watch people go by. It’s a romantic thing when you’re our age.
Well, things didn’t go exactly to plan.
We had just finished dinner at a little restaurant named the Mity-Nice Bar & Grill in the Water Tower Building. We were bundling up in the lobby of the Water Tower across from the Broadway Playhouse, preparing to brave the frigid weather when a woman urgently approached us with a couple of pieces of paper in hand. She held them out and said, “Would you like to see a Rock & Roll Christmas Tale?”
We were trying to process what she was saying and respond to this complete stranger while she continued to talk.
“It’s a play that is premiering in Chicago rather than New York. We have a couple of extra tickets. The play is going to start in 5 minutes. Take them and go to the play or give them to someone else . . . I have to go because it is about to start and it is just across the drive-thru.” She pointed the direction. “We will be in front of you if you decide to come.”
She was off, and we were standing there dumbfounded with two expensive tickets in hand. I turned to my wife, she looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Why not!”
Within a few minutes we had found our seats. We waved to the lady, her husband, and six others in her party. We simply settled in as part of the family and readied for the play.
We were barely seated when the lights dimmed and Dee Snider came out on stage and gave a short background about himself, his family, and why they were premiering his play (“Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale”) in Chicago. I always enjoyed his music and thought he was cool, but I learned so much about him in his five-minute introduction that I made a 50-year leap from thinking he was cool to thinking he is now awesome.
Beyond an amusing and unexpected twist in the play, the complexity to Dee’s writing also provides a little something for everyone. It’s like watching a great cartoon in which kids can enjoy the animation while the grown-ups can enjoy some of the adult banter that the children don’t get. Outside the story, the twists, and the writing, the show features extremely talented musicians and actors. The musicians could actually play heavy metal really well, i.e. awesomely.
For those who like heavy metal, you would enjoy the talent, the music, and especially the costumes. For those who like a little tongue-in-cheek rock ‘n’ roll history, nothing will be lost on you. And for those Christmas sentimentalists, the twist in the play will be for you. But be aware of the lessons learned: If you ever decide to sell your soul to Satan for fame and fortune, make sure you check the spelling on the contract. Signing a contract in blood with “Satan” is not quite the same as signing one in blood with “Santa.”
Do I recommend this twisted Christmas play? Absolutely! For me, it turned out to be one of those serendipitously magnificent evenings, thanks to a lady who ended up with two too many tickets.
We did finally finish our romantic plans after the play. We bundled up, got our hot chocolate from Ghirardelli’s, and sat out in the cold on a park bench along with a panhandler and a homeless lady watching the beauty of life and people go by.
Thanks Dee . . . it was brilliant. My wife has put my new “chalice” in a special kitchen cabinet for me to access whenever I have a thirst for life.