Southern Rep Theatre will host Meatball Séance, created and performed by John Michael, January 31 – February 2 in the Sanctuary Stage at 2541 Bayou Road.
In this interactive comedy, John Michael has a new boyfriend who’s been invited to meet John’s mom. But she’s deceased. So John Michael is gonna summon her from the dead by cooking her famous meatballs onstage for the new beau and the entire audience.
The show tackles the oftentimes delicate subjects of grief and loss but is leavened by John Michael’s puckish spirit.
“When people found out my mother had died, they would often express their sympathies by apologizing, which caused me to change the subject,” says John Michael. “For the longest time, their discomfort made me stop talking about her. Meatball Séance makes a case for celebratory grieving. We can’t ignore loss because our loved ones live on through us.”
Meatball Séance includes optional audience participation as there are roles for 5 audience members to play. The only way to avoid participating is to cross your arms.
John Michael has toured Meatball Séance around the world. Notable stops include Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, Orlando Fringe, the Norway Fringe, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
This will not be John Michael’s first visit to New Orleans. In 2013, his Harry Potter-themed John Michael & The Order of the Penix which attacked reckless behavior using elements from the landmark saga, was part of the New Orleans Fringe Festival. Not being terribly conversant with all things Potter, I was afraid I wouldn’t entirely get it but decided to go anyway.
As it turned out, the HP elements, introduced about halfway through the hour-long monolog, elevated a solid show into the realm of wacky fun and real, insightful humor. With cheeky wit, John Michael Colgin (as he was billed then) fashioned a cautionary tale from his own youthful exploits, including getting kicked out of his parents’ house for being messy (“So lame.”).
An assured performer with a malleable voice, Colgin effectively drew audience members into his act in which both cupcake frosting and ice cream become metaphoric representations of cum. He nicely created a variety of locales (a car, a Jacuzzi, the adult entertainment emporium where he worked) and, using a hoodie and some small lights, inventively brought to life his Daniel Radcliffe look-alike boyfriend.
Penix was an engaging and worthy chronicle that I hoped the young’uns of the 20something “let’s-bareback-’cause-AIDS-is-a-manageable-disease-like-diabetes” set would pay attention to in the pre-PrEP era. I also suggested that we should pay attention to Colgin who, with his piquant blend of sauciness and gravitas, showed much promise for the future.
With Meatball Séance, which has been described as “silly, subversive and powerful” in The Dallas Observer, it appears that John Michael is fulfilling that promise.
To purchase tickets for Meatball Séance, visit www.southernrep.com or call the box office at 504-522-6545. The show runs Thursday, January 30 at 10:30pm, Friday, January 31 at 10:30pm, and Sunday, February 2 at 7:00pm.