Oak Park native performs country-fried Wagner in ‘Das Barbecu”
Oak Park native Emily Goldberg boasts a distinguished acting resume. Now back from college, Goldberg has accepted a role in “Das Barbecu,” a comic, country-and-western musical re-imagining of Wagner’s grand-opera “Ring” cycle. | Photos courtesy of Goldberg
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:21AM
OAK PARK — Emily Goldberg appeared in her first musical at the age of 10 and she’s been performing ever since.
Her resume includes performances in shows at Oak Park River Forest High School, where she graduated in 2008, as well as Circle Theatre and Village Players.
After graduating from the Boston Conservatory theater program in May, the Oak Park native immediately continued performing. She acted in “Oliver!” at Light Opera Works, in the title role of the Gorilla Theatre parody “The Tragic Tale of our King Michael Jackson,” and in her own solo cabaret show at Davenport’s Cabaret Bar.
“That was the scariest thing I ever did,” she said of the solo act.
And now, as a Texas-style Brunnhilda — and three other characters — in “Das Barbecu,” a comic, country-and-western musical re-imagining of Wagner’s gargantuan, grand-opera “Ring” cycle, which runs through Feb. 2 at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center in Cicero.
Pioneer caught up with Goldberg between shows for a chat about acting, opera and what Wagner might make of all this craziness.
Q: Do you consider yourself an actor, primarily? Or a singer?
A: I consider myself an actor first, because if you don’t interpret the material in a way that engages the audience, it doesn’t really matter if you sound good. I’ve been taking voice lessons since I was 11, though. I’ve never sung opera, but I was classically trained so I have a more legit-sounding voice. I’m just getting interested in operetta right now.
Q: Do you have some familiarity with opera? Have you seen the “Ring” cycle?
A: I saw the “Ring” cycle with my sister when we were kids. My dad taped the Met version. I don’t know how we stayed focused through the whole thing. (Laughs) But I haven’t seen enough opera to have any serious opinion on it. In fact, when I was in middle school I thought “La Boheme” was based on the musical “Rent.” I’m definitely not an aficionado.
Q: What appealed to you about “Das Barbecu”?
A: It just seemed completely ridiculous and hilarious. And I really loved the music, so it was a perfect combination.
Q: How would you describe the tone of the show? Is it driven by satire of the “Ring” cycle, or of opera in general? Or is it basically an excuse for a “Pump Boys and Dinettes” sort of show?
A: It’s driven by trying to fit the epic plot of the ‘Ring’ cycle, which is 16 hours long or something like that, into this little musical comedy. So things get a little crazy. (Laughs) That’s why they have only five people playing more than 30 roles — to keep it a little crazy. It’s not for budgetary reasons.
It’s not driven by parody. That’s not what they really intended. There are actually moments when the story gets pretty heart-felt, and the show slows down a bit. But for the most part, it’s fast-paced, funny and rowdy.
Q: Does the audience have to know anything about the ‘Ring’ cycle to enjoy this show?
A: Not at all. If you do know about it, you might catch some more of the jokes and find things a little funnier, but it’s not necessary to get the show and go on the ride.
Q: What do you think Wagner would make of all this?
A: (Laughs) I think he’d be really offended.
Q: Apparently, he wasn’t really known for his sense of humor...
A: Yeah. I don’t know him personally, so I can’t really say, but I’m guessing he would not find it very funny. Or, maybe he’d be thinking, ‘Wow, I always wondered how I could cut down on the running time.’
“Das Barbecu” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays through Feb. 2 in Morton College’s Jedlicka Performing Arts Center, 3801 S. Central Ave., Cicero. Tickets are $18; $16 for seniors. For tickets, visit www.jpactheatre.com or call (708) 656-1800.