Billy the Mountain and Other Wartime Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Billy the Mountain and Other Wartime Stories 

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Riding the zeitgeist like Slim Pickens on his nuclear steed, Striding Lion InterArts Workshop remounts its hit mini rock opera, inspired by the eponymous Frank Zappa operetta on 1972's Just Another Band From L.A. The group-conceived script expands the narrative--about an anthropomorphic mountain and his cross-country trek--expertly introducing echoes of WWII boosterism, duck-and-cover 50s propaganda, and today's color-coded fearmongering to Zappa's Nixon-era satire, suggesting that some methods of red-white-and-blue social control never change. The original cast returns, singing and dancing up a storm, as does the crack band of prog-errific musicians. Climaxing with Matt Reed's combustible turn as secret G-man villain Studebacher Hoch and Zappa's blunt exhortation to civil disobedience--"A mountain is something you don't wanna fuck with"--this rollicking, cheerfully cynical show is as relevant as ever. Through 7/28: Thu 7:30 PM. Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, 773-561-0494. $12.

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