Photo by Taso PapadakisNot that there's a widespread clamoring for this sort of thing, but if any OC painter is going to have a stage show produced around his work, it may as well be Shag. Either that or Wyland:TheMusical!
So we have ShagWithaTwist,and like Shag's fun, brightly hued, tiki-toned, cocktail-colored hipster artwork, it's one swingin' party. Shag, a.k.a. Josh Agle, has bypassed what seemed to be his ultimate destiny of having his own Cartoon Network show and instead headed straight for the stage. Can the lavish, $100-per-ticket Broadway revue be far behind? Dunno, but Agle/Shag sure has the marketing savvy to pull it off.
ShagwithaTwist,though, isn't MammaMia.More a dance production than musical theater (you really have to read the program synopsis to figure out what exactly is going on), the show takes a handful of Shag-created characters, brings them to life in fully exaggerated costumes—the impossibly stacked hair, the extra-pointy nipples, the loud leisure jackets and skinny ties—mixes in Shag's vibrant set design and sets it to the kind of surf/lounge music you swear is spinning in the background of every Shag painting.
The “plot,” if you could call it that, is mostly wrapped around a murder mystery—a character at what looks like the Coolest Party on Earth winds up dead on the floor with a corkscrew in her back. But you don't really care about that as much as you just prefer gawking at the onslaught of Shag-ified actors decorating the stage: swanky jet setters, Latin lovers, seductive temptresses, hunchbacked coroners, suave bachelors, fez-wearing monkeys, Siamese twins joined at the hair. There's a vision of Shag Heaven, an autopsy laid out like a game of Operation,a tiki-god sance, heaps of Tupperware and nonstop shimmying.
Every now and then, a couple of people will come out and do a kitschy pop song, but other than these story-moving devices, there's no dialogue. But we don't really want to know what Shag's characters would sound like, anyway. Like his paintings, we just want to stare at ShagWithaTwistfor a while, soak it all in and leave smiling. And that's exactly what we did. It's actually something worth shlepping to downtown LA for.
SHAG WITH A TWIST AT THE LOS ANGELES THEATRE CENTER, 514 S. SPRING ST., LOS ANGELES, (888) 515-7424; WWW.SHAGWITHATWIST.COM. THURS.-SAT., 8 P.M. THROUGH JUNE 11. $25-$45.