I once liked the films of Quentin Tarantino. That was before his second movie, Pulp Fiction, came out and he boasted that he always knew critics would discuss the “Tarantino-style”—he was just surprised it happened after his second release. At that moment I stopped going to his films. I figured his ego and bank account didn’t need my support.
So it was with this trepidation that I ventured to Barre at Vermont for the current installment in the For the Record series. Before discussing the merits of the new production, I should point out that this is the show that launched this series.
From the opening moments I was hooked on the feeling that this show was going to blow my mind. Don’t let me be misunderstood, you never can tell if you will leave a show with a satisfied mind. With For the Record: Tarantino, I left with a satisfied mind and very satisfied ears.
While I am not a fan of Tarantino’s ego, I will admit he uses popular songs in his films cunningly. In Reservoir Dogs he memorably uses “Stuck in the Middle with You.” As they usually do, For the Record creators Shane Scheel and Christopher Lloyd Bratten have one-upped Tarantino in their depiction of this scene, making it fresh and inspired.
“Lonesome Town,” which is a background song in Pulp Fiction, becomes a heartbreaking lament. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” was surprisingly beautiful. “Chick Habit” from Death Proof could make a gay man straight (it didn’t in this case, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility).
There are 22 cast members listed in the program. Though I’ve seen the show a couple times now, I haven’t seen everyone, so I can’t tell you that one performer is better than another in a given role. However, there is in performer I’ve had the privilege of hearing and you should make sure you do as well: Von Smith.
There’s a tradition in Broadway shows called “the eleven o’clock number.” It is usually reserved as the ultimate moment for the lead role late in the second act (think “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy.) In Kill Bill Vol. 2 Johnny Cash’s “Satisfied Mind” is heard. If you know the song, you will be magically reintroduced to it when it is performed by Mr. Smith. His is a transcendent performance that literally stopped the show cold. His range is as extraordinary as his seemingly effortless performance.
Though I doubt I’ll even cross the street to see the next Tarantino movie (Django Unchained), I would encourage you to rush to see For the Record: Tarantino in Concert.