'Eddie and Dave' Theater Reviews

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January 23, 2019 at 12:11 pm Quote #60105



‘Eddie and Dave’ Theater Review: What a Drag! Van Halen Reimagined With Women as Classic Rockers
Amy Staats’ new comedy lampoons Van Halen by showing the men for what they really are
Robert Hofler | January 22, 2019 @ 6:00 PM

Photo: Ahron R. Foster

Male drag is a staple of the theater. Female drag, uh, not so much. So it’s good news to report that Amy Staats’ new bio-comedy, “Eddie and Dave,” makes spectacular use of its female actors in male roles, in this case, the rockers Alex and Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth. “Eddie and Dave” opened Tuesday at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Yes, the men of Van Halen are being played by women, although that fourth band member, Michael Anthony, gets an entirely different kind of stage treatment, which will not be revealed here but is worth more than a few hearty laughs.

Two summers ago, the Public Theater staged a disastrous “The Taming of the Shrew” with an all-female cast at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. When men play women, it’s inherently funny because what you get are a lot of larger-than-life women. Going in reverse with the Bard, the female actors of “Shrew” simply turned themselves into a lot of little men trying to be gruff and vulgar, and coming up, well, short.

In “Eddie and Dave,” Megan Hill (Dave), Amy Staats (Eddie) and Adina Verson (Al) do something far more imaginative under Margot Bordelon’s super-sharp direction. They startle us by being the little boy that is at the heart of every rock-and-roll star. They’re not playing men. They’re playing petty, pampered, spoiled, solipsistic little boys who only occasionally resemble adults, but for the most part spend their time trashing hotel rooms and showing up late for an important recording session.

These female actors also have that androgynous thing down pat, what Mick Jagger personified before he turned 30. Hill, especially, sports Jagger’s obscene mouth, and she uses it and the rest of her body for magnificent semi-virile effect.

Vanessa Aspillaga, playing an MTV VJ, narrates the rise and fall and semi-resurrection of the band known as Van Halen, starting with their disastrous reunion at the MTV Music Awards in 1996. I’m not sure if Aspillaga is playing male or female, but unlike most narrators in the theater, she’s worth watching in her own right.

The credits includes the following line: “The only thing real about this play is the author’s love for a certain band.” Experts on Van Halen may disagree. Included here is Eddie’s unlikely marriage to erstwhile TV star Valerie Bertinelli, whom everyone simply calls Val in “Eddie and Dave,” and is played with hysterical feminine charm by Omer Abbas Salem. He towers over Staats, but they don’t let that get in the way of showing tender love for each other.

Staats hasn’t found quite the right ending for “Eddie and Dave.” The comedy and the chaos tend to dribble off in the last 10 minutes of this 90-minute play. Maybe she should end things with David proclaimed as the “Este Lauder of tattoos.”

January 23, 2019 at 7:23 pm Quote #60107



Review of Eddie and Dave at Atlantic Theater Company

Our critic’s rating: 2.5/5
Date: January 23, 2019
Review by: Stanford Friedman

Perhaps Amy Staats, the playwright and lead actor of Eddie and Dave at Atlantic Stage 2, is into minimalism. Maybe that is why only the first names of Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth are used in the title of this quasi bio satire of the two rockers and the rise of their supergroup,Van Halen, in the MTV heyday of the 1980s. Maybe that is why merely three of the group’s four members are actually portrayed, while the fourth, bass player Michael Anthony, shows up only as a framed portrait hung on a wall in a running gag. (Sammy Hagar, a later member, gets a visual shout out as well). Maybe that is why we hear only brief riffs of their greatest hits, though it is much more likely that the reason has something to do with music licensing. And maybe that is why the play’s 37 short scenes go fleeting by with so few laughs, so little gravitas and virtually no variance in tone. Under the uninspired if brisk direction of Margot Bordelon, Staats and company fail to heed Roth’s classic advice as set forth in the sage megahit, Jump, “You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real.”

Staats employs a narrator (Vanessa Aspillaga) in the guise of an MTV video jockey to frame the story. “This is my memory play,” she tells us, “It is brightly lit, it is sentimental, and not at all realistic.” Well, she is half right. Sentimental is not an applicable sentiment when you have the tall Omer Abbas Salem portraying the short Valerie Bertinelli, Eddie’s wife for two decades, with an embarrassing look-I’m-a-hairy-guy-in-drag demeanor. And it is only a memory play if it involves the narrator’s memories. Most of what happens here takes place apart from what this nameless VJ would have experienced.

The tale proceeds, Wikipedia style, from Eddie (Ms. Staats) and his brother Alex (Adina Verson) arriving with their parents from the Netherlands in 1962, to 1971 when the rocking brothers meet the tempestuous Roth (Megan Hill) and the band is forged in steel. Great success, minor jealousies and forgettable intrigue follow, as do their cravings for alcohol and cocaine, the advent of music videos and the inevitable going of their separate ways. Alex’s tough times are presented as quick throw away lines like, “I gotta go get a divorce. I’ll be back in three months,” and “I gotta go to rehab. See you.” Dave, meanwhile, bathes in his own narcissism, “I’m Tarzan and Brigitte Bardot all wrapped up in one!”

By the time the three musicians ultimately reunite, at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, their failure to get the band back together is neither tragic nor comic, since no real pathos for the characters has been established. Ms. Staats and Ms. Hill have little chemistry in what should be a fiery friendship and Ms. Verson has so little to do as Alex that she fades into the background. That they are women in wigs portraying sex symbol men seems to have no bearing on Ms. Bordelon’s vision of the production. As the VJ, Ms. Aspillaga is missing the X factor qualities that made her real world counterparts, like Martha Quinn and Downtown Julie Brown, such phenomena of their day. Indeed, the real world is the playwright’s final enemy here. With Roth, the Van Halens, Ms. Bertinelli, and even MTV all aging gracefully, this would-be rock and roll bad boy of a show has nowhere to run.

Adina Verson, Megan Hill, and Vanessa Aspillaga in Eddie and Dave
(Photo by Ahron R. Foster)

January 23, 2019 at 7:39 pm Quote #60109



Eddie and Dave
Theater, Comedy
Atlantic Stage 2 , Chelsea
Until Sunday February 10 2019

Photograph: Courtesy Ahron R. Foster


Theater review by Helen Shaw

In Amy Staats’s unabashedly goofy rock bioplay Eddie and Dave, Vanessa Aspillaga plays an MTV VJ–words that should thrill any Gen Xer’s heart. As the show’s narrator, she begins with some tart observations about nostalgia, and of course she’s right about that. But also…Hey, remember MTV? [Review writing is momentarily paused for the viewing of an A-ha video.]

Affection for music and the ridiculous past are the columns on which Staats has built her comedy, which flashes back from a debacle at the 1996 MTV Music Video Awards to tell the story of how virtuoso guitarist Eddie Van Halen (played by Staats herself) met glam-rock peacock David Lee Roth (Megan Hill); how they taught the world to jump and to tease its hair real big; how actress Valerie Bertinelli (Omer Abbas Salem) nearly came between them; and how drummer Alex Van Halen (Adina Verson) stirred the pot.

How in the name of high holy hairspray did they get away with this? None of the names have been changed, and Staats’s portrait of her subjects, if always loving, sure isn’t hagiography. The music also hews perilously close to Van Halen’s classic bangers: Sound designer Palmer Hefferan and composer Michael Thurber have created short music cues that stay just shy of copyright infraction while still giving the audience some lost-in-the-80s shivers. But those calculations–the attempts to take something that feels bootleg and turn it into something that can get through the Atlantic Theater Company’s legal department–leave the play a little muted.

Thankfully, the gender-swapped performances go to 11. The gonzo Hill shows up in a dream sequence wearing assless scrubs, and that’s one of her more sober moments; Salem is slinky and hilarious as Bertinelli. Director Margot Bordelon and her design team, particularly costumier Montana Levi Blanco, give Eddie and Dave absolutely everything they can, considering that they’re not being allowed to make a jukebox musical. But the show’s structure and practical compromises keep fighting them. The narrator doesn’t feel necessary, and it’s difficult to make things feel sufficiently awesome when you can tell us about Eddie playing on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” but you aren’t allowed to let us actually hear it. If you’re an audience member who’s willing to imagine, say, “Panama” at top volume in your mind as you watch it, then Eddie and Dave is the perfect accompaniment. As it plays now, though, this big-hearted show sounds too much like an electric guitar–right before you plug it into the amp.

Atlantic Stage 2 (Off Broadway. By Amy Staats. Directed by Margot Bordelon. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission.

January 23, 2019 at 7:51 pm Quote #60113



Review: In ‘Eddie and Dave,’ Van Halen Gets a Makeover

Might as well jump: from left, Adina Verson as Al, Amy Staats as Eddie and Megan Hill as Dave in “Eddie and Dave” at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

By Ben Brantley
Jan. 22, 2019

When it comes to glamorous drag, men who impersonate women have traditionally had an unfair advantage over their female counterparts. Just think of the boundlessly flamboyant options available for guys to transform into gals: baubles, boas, high heels, bouffants, ad infinitum.

As for women doing men, what’s their choice, really, beyond business suits and sloppy sweats?

“Eddie and Dave,” the larky if bloated sketch of a bio-comedy that opened on Tuesday at Stage 2 of the Atlantic Theater Company, helps to correct that imbalance. Its title characters, based on the original guitarist and lead singer of the chart-topping band Van Halen, are indeed men portrayed by women.

But these figures hail from the 1980s, a decade in which big hair and glam metal rock ruled the airwaves. The professional (and often offstage) attire of the male musicians who practiced this earsplitting art embraced a peacock panoply of baubles, boas, high heels and, yes, bouffant coiffures. And it was a look worn not with Dietrich-style elegance, but with swaggering and sweaty machismo.

The female cast members of “Eddie and Dave,” written by Amy Staats and directed by Margot Bordelon, appear to be having a high old time finding the testosterone within their characters’ teased hair. Swathed in costumes (by Montana Levi Blanco) that might have come from a Ziegfeld girl’s trunk and wigs (by Cookie Jordan) that could house a family of squirrels, the angry young rockers of this rambunctious play demonstrate that wearing sequins and fishnets is no guarantee against bad-boy behavior.

Even by the tumultuous standards of hard rock relationships, Van Halen was notable for its break-up-make-up infighting. Created by the Dutch-born Van Halen brothers, Al (Adina Verson) and the guitar genius Eddie (Ms. Staats), this California-bred group found its mojo when the charismatic, turbocharged David Lee Roth (Megan Hill) became their lead singer.

Clashes between the introverted, artistically ambitious Eddie and the show-off, crowd-pleasing Diamond Dave (as he was known) were commonplace from the beginning, and reached a very public and mortifying climax when the (temporarily reunited) band appeared onstage at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. That’s the taking-off point for a journey into flashbacks, narrated by a former music reporter and video jockey, identified only as MTV VJ (a wired but weary Vanessa Aspillaga).

Omer Abbas Salem, left, as a version of the sitcom star Valerie Bertinelli, with Ms. Staats as Eddie.
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

“Ooh, such a dirty habit,” MTV VJ says winningly. She’s just lit a cigarette but the habit she’s referring to is “nostalgia.” She goes on explain, “This is my memory play. It is brightly lit, it is sentimental, it is not at all realistic.” (MTV VJ has obviously read the opening pages of “The Glass Menagerie.”)

The setting for such time travel (designed by Reid Thompson) looks like a wood-paneled, basement rec room in suburbia, decorated with rock memorabilia that includes lots of guitars and a few gold records. It suggests a place where teenage boys might assemble to get high, get rowdy and blast power chords.

This is appropriate for a show that tracks the evolution of a group of men who were trapped in eternal scrappy adolescence by outrageous fame. Much of what follows, with MTV VJ setting the scenes with timeline interjections, finds the Van Halen team interacting explosively (throwing punches, wrestling, swigging booze, snorting coke), while displaying the emotional intelligence of 13-year-olds.

Initially, this is pretty funny. So are the deadpan fraternal personae of Ms. Staats and Ms. Verson, contrasted with the grandstanding extroversion of Ms. Hill’s Dave. Wittiest of all perhaps is the presentation of Van Halen’s fourth member, the bassist Michael Anthony, portrayed by a framed photograph, which is only occasionally acknowledged by the others.

Ultimately, though, the comedy is too blunt and repetitive to sustain the 90 uninterrupted minutes of “Eddie and Dave.” Ms. Staats (who appeared memorably in the Mad Ones’ brilliant “Miles for Mary”) avoids the sharp, satirical focus of the classic rock-mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap.” Her approach is both sloppier and more sincere.

“Eddie and Dave” is, in part, a burned-out fan’s notes, via MTV VJ, who has a scrapbook of a mind that blurs firsthand observation with tabloid headlines. If you do not belong to that category yourself, you may be a bit baffled (or bored) by re-enactments of events like that notorious MTV awards appearance.

There is throughout, though, a mind-bending glee in watching women taking on the extravagant guises of hot-dog rock ‘n’ rollers, who for all their strutting machismo never grow into manhood. By the way, “Eddie and Dave” does feature one notable female character other than MTV VJ. That’s Valerie Bertinelli, the sitcom star who married Eddie, played here by Omer Abbas Salem.

The outfits worn by Mr. Salem, it should be noted, are models of understatement compared to the get-ups of the Van Halen boys. Though she is inflected with ripples of silly celebrity shallowness, Mr. Salem’s Val nonetheless registers as the sanest person in the room. Even when it’s cross-dress-up time, it evidently takes a woman to be an adult in the excessive ’80s.

A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 22, 2019, on Page C8 of the New York edition with the headline: A Gender-Swap Lark? Might as Well Jump.

January 23, 2019 at 8:00 pm Quote #60114



Theater Review: Eddie and Dave Tries to Get to What’s Real
By Sara Holdren

From Eddie and Dave. Photo: Ahron R. Foster

“What really happened with David Lee Roth at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards?” we’re asked early in Amy Staats’s Eddie and Dave — both by the play’s narrator, a nostalgic former VJ, and by a spinning projected title in an aggressively ’90s font. The “burning” question winks at us with its blend of urgency and nerdery. We’re witnessing that most niche and intense of human passions: fandom. The MTV VJ (Vanessa Aspillaga) is our host, and we’ve been invited to her memory play. She’s got “tricks up [her] pocket” and “zippers up [her] sleeve” and she’ll be borrowing liberally from Tom Wingfield as she guides us pastwards, through the story of the band that gives her world meaning — and that she believes she almost succeeded in reuniting — the ’80s hair metal superstars Van Halen. It’s The Glam (Rock) Menagerie, and we’re primed for big wigs, bigger guitar licks, and a splashy backstage dish-o-rama of epic rock-and-roll proportions.

It’s a bit of a letdown, then, to find that Staats’s comedy in fact feels modest, even a bit quaint — and not necessarily with the kind of roughhewn earnestness the playwright describes in her stage directions, where she calls for “raggedy grandeur,” “tattered elegance,” and “the janky, earthy brightness of the Coney Island fireworks.” That sounds lovely, but rather than feeling productively limited in its resources — like a couple of kids working imaginative wonders with cardboard and foil in their parents’ garage — Eddie and Dave instead ends up feeling limited in dramatic scope. The play is a loose-limbed, partially mythologized tour of Van Halen’s Wikipedia page, hung around their awkward VMAs appearance in 1996, when David Lee Roth pulled a proto-Kanye and shtickily upstaged the actual award winner, Beck. Ultimately, Staats has written a sincere but simple love letter, a cheerful act of fanfiction that bubbles along enjoyably enough without ever really becoming more than the sum of its parts. “What really happened with David Lee Roth…?” really is the burning question.

The twist in the myth is that the boys of Van Halen are all embodied by women, with Staats herself as the titular fast-fingered Eddie. Valerie Bertinelli — the winsome soap-opera star who married the young guitar god when he was 26 and she was 21 — is played with pursed lips, Daisy Dukes, and teased hair by Omer Abbas Salem, a tall man made even taller in the ’80s heels supplied by Montana Levi Blanco (whose costumes feature a truly impressive amount of synthetic fur). Keeping Eddie’s beat and watching his back is his brother, Van Halen’s drummer Alex (Adina Verson), and swaggering in front, soaking up the glory, getting perpetually under Eddie’s skin and yet pushing him to his most brilliant collaborations is the band’s original frontman, “clinically extroverted rich boy” David Lee Roth a.k.a. Dave (Megan Hill, sporting a chest-hair bathing suit under her rotating raiment of mesh and leather). Van Halen had a bassist too, but as the VJ explains passionately, “there’s not enough time” to include him in this version of the story. In one of the show’s funnier moves, his portrait hangs on a wall, illuminated with a spotlight whenever he’s technically in the room having opinions. “Michael Anthony, stay out of this!” snaps Alex when the portrait dares to glow.

At times it’s great fun to watch the women of Eddie and Dave flex their rock-god muscles — especially as these ostentatious ’80s headbangers who strut an interesting line between androgyny and preening, animal kingdom-style hyper-masculinity. At other times, the cross-gender gambit leads to easy joke territory: your basic women-being-dudes-by-grabbing-their-nutsacks-and-air-humping-and-leering-about-chicks kind of stuff. I’m not jonesing for the casting to have some deeper meaning: Men have played women for thousands of years without having to explain themselves, but cast a woman as a man and people immediately start guessing at your agenda. I’m happy to watch Staats, Verson, and Hill rock out with their cocks out — especially Verson, who almost saunters casually away with the show with her droll, business-like, party-boy-meets-mob-enforcer take on big brother Alex. Staats’s diffident, doe-eyed Eddie — a prodigy, an experimenter, an anti-commercial musical wunderkind who, as he cries out in agony at one point, “just [wants] to play jazz!” — is also sweet and appealing, if something of an intentional stock type. It’s not the performers that leave you wanting more, but the play itself.

Director Margot Bordelon and her design team are in search of that “raggedy grandeur” Staats speaks of, but they end up somewhere in the middle, caught between the glam reality and the homespun “Think when we talk of rockstars that you see them” approach. Reid Thompson’s set gives us faded posters galore, but with a towering wall of faux-speakers in the back, it feels more like an empty club than a wistful, grungy mind palace. The Atlantic’s Stage 2 isn’t a big space, yet I longed for more intimacy, more of that feeling of the tiny, messy, secret place we go to worship our chosen heroes. There’s also a persistent feeling of cognitive dissonance in Palmer Hefferan’s sound design, which makes the most of an impossible situation. As Staats notes in her play’s script, Eddie and Dave is still in process when it comes to “copyright and licensing issues.” Which means that when we hear a song like “Jump” we don’t hear the real thing, but rather a Hefferan-created tune that’s almost the famous riff, but not quite. Nothing kills a dream like a lawsuit.

There’s lots of good humor and a few really good jokes in Eddie and Dave, but right now, there’s also not much there there. “The only thing real about this play is the author’s love for a certain band,” reads a note in the program. Fair enough, I suppose, but I’m not sure a whole play can be built on stanning a legend. I felt myself longing for a clarity of theme: We’re talking about Van Halen, yes, and what else are we talking about? The thrilling, crushing rollercoaster of fame? Celebrity worship? Friendship? Family? Genius? The rewards and traumas of creative collaboration? Nostalgia? The ways our imaginations — our whole souls — are shaped by weird, wonderful, ridiculous gods of our own choosing? I think Staats is most interested in the last of those ideas, but her play dabbles lightly in all of them. It’s striving for something bigger, but it never quite makes the Jump.

January 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm Quote #60115



Big Hair and Bigger Egos in Eddie and Dave
The legend of the hard-rock band Van Halen takes the stage in Amy Staats’s new comedy.
Author Zachary Stewart
Locations Off-Broadway
January 22, 2019

Amy Staats plays Eddie Van Halen, and Megan Hill plays David Lee Roth in Staats’s Eddie and Dave, directed by Margot Bordelon, at Atlantic Stage 2.
(© Ahron R. Foster)

“All things great and magical are inherently ridiculous,” says a wise MTV VJ in Amy Staats’s Eddie and Dave, adding, “and you yourself are ridiculous, or will be soon if you are lucky and very, very brave.” This statement reveals much about the frisky admiration with which Staats wrote this hilarious fable of rock ‘n’ roll, now playing at Atlantic Theater Company. Staats invites her audience into a snow globe filled with glitter and cocaine to recount the heroic journey of the band Van Halen, resulting in 100 minutes that are indeed as magical as they are ridiculous.

Naturally, this Billboard bildungsroman features recurrent themes in the American dream: Dutch immigrants Eddie (playwright Staats) and Alex Van Halen (a no-nonsense Adina Verson) arrive in America with little more than a proficiency in classical music. Drummer Alex is protective of his younger brother, a somewhat awkward guitar prodigy who dreams of composing. When they decide to invite a Pasadena rich kid named David Lee Roth (Megan Hill) to be their lead singer, they set the band on the highway to both glory and destruction.

David Lee Roth (Megan Hill) is interview by an MTV VJ (Vanessa Aspillaga) in Eddie and Dave.
(© Ahron R. Foster)

Conjuring the crackly wonder of a campfire fabulist, Vanessa Aspillaga portrays our narrator, a VJ from the golden age of MTV (back when the cable channel actually showed music videos). In addition to playing multiple roles (roadies, fans, Quincy Jones), she tells how the band went from playing backyard parties in LA to selling out Madison Square Garden. She straddles the line between Bertolt Brecht and Tennessee Williams, imparting wisdom while navigating the murky waters of memory.

And thanks to the committed performances of this five-person cast, we’re willing to go along with this highly fantastical version of events: We watch as Eddie burns the night oil at his Casio. An ethereal glaze over her eyes, Staats plays him like Mozart, deep in concentration, composing his Requiem. What is his magnum opus? The No. 1 song “Jump,” of course. Portraying the long-suffering Stanzi to his Wolfie is Omer Abbas Salem, who endows One Day at a Time star Valerie Bertinelli with a mischievous smile and hungry eyes.

Omer Abbas Salem plays Valerie Bertinelli in Eddie and Dave.
(© Ahron R. Foster)

With the painted-on grin of a carnival barker, Hill eerily channels the aggressive, grating charisma of David Lee Roth. It’s annoying and just a little pathetic, but Staats posits that Roth’s superlative confidence was a key factor in breaking Eddie out of his shell and helping him share his gift with the world. Staats gingerly approaches their scenes together like an ornithologist peering through binoculars at the mating rituals of rare songbirds, which sounds about right when considering intimacy between heterosexual men.

Costume designer Montana Levi Blanco, in collaboration with wig designer Cookie Jordan, makes these glam rockers look as ostentatious as a crackle of cockatoos. That’s one of the things that makes Eddie and Dave especially clever: The rockers of the Van Halen era pushed against gender expectations, sheathing virile bravado in sequined spandex. Recent plays like the TEAM’s RoosevElvis and Jaclyn Backhaus’s Men on Boats have subverted a conventional view of masculinity by casting women to play their macho protagonists. Staats takes this one step further by gender-bending men who already have hair bigger than most drag queens.

Megan Hill, Adina Verson, and Amy Staats star in Eddie and Dave.
(© Ahron R. Foster)

Director Margot Bordelon stages the tale in an outrageous and ever-shifting arena: Reid Thompson’s versatile set is decorated with memorabilia, including a framed photo of bassist Michael Anthony, the fourth member of Van Halen who was not deemed significant enough to merit an actor. Jiyoun Chang affects rock concert lighting with moving LEDs and an upstage wall of light. Composer Michael Thurber succeeds in the difficult task of writing songs that evoke other songs, but without violating copyright law (his bottom-shelf version of a certain Michael Jackson song is particularly impressive).

The brilliant use of drag isn’t the only thing about Eddie and Dave that recalls the work of late Ridiculous Theatrical Company founder Charles Ludlam, who once wrote in a vein similar to the opening line of this review, “You are a living mockery of your own ideals. If not, you have set your ideals too low.” Like Ludlam (whose most notable roles included Marguerite Gautier and a thinly veiled Maria Callas), Staats is a playwright-performer who clearly has deep respect for her subject and the artistic risks he took when others wouldn’t. Van Halen produced rock with symphonic ambition, something that feels lacking in most new music today. It may be ridiculous, but the world would be less vibrant without it.

January 23, 2019 at 8:51 pm Quote #60116


:mrgreen: :mrgreen:

When you turn on your stereo, does it return the favor?

January 24, 2019 at 9:28 am Quote #60126


January 24, 2019 at 12:15 pm Quote #60128


Interview with the writer/co-star


Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth’s relationship is subject of new Off-Broadway play

In “Eddie and Dave,” women play the legendary Van Halen duo.

By David J. Criblez
david.criblez@newsday.com @DavidJCriblez
Updated January 24, 2019 6:00 AM

Van Halen may not currently be on tour, but fans can see portrayals of guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth mix it up Off-Broadway in the new play “Eddie and Dave” at the Atlantic Theater Company.

The 90-minute stage production, directed by Margot Bordelon, focuses on the unique chemistry and complicated relationship of the shy axeman and the gregarious frontman.

“I’ve always been fascinated by band breakups,” says playwright Amy Staats, who plays Eddie. “I was taken by the humanity and the struggle of these two people who are opposites but need each other. It has all the elements of a Greek play.”

The play’s interesting twist is that the members of the all-male band are portrayed by females.

“For us it’s not so much women playing men, these are just amazing characters,” says actress Megan Hill, who takes on the role of Roth. “In some ways it allows the audience to have this separation from the real people. I think they can take in the story in a purer way.”

Staats adds, “If guys had been in the play, it might not be right for where we are now in theater. Sometimes you need someone other than yourself to show the truth.”

The play starts with the failed reunion at the infamous 1996 MTV Video Music Awards when the band’s dysfunction was televised in front of millions.

“That video clip immediately captured my attention and then I just started following the dots,” says Staats. “I wanted to know what happened. Everybody seemed very upset. It was my entryway into the story.”

In the clip, Roth stole the spotlight from Beck, who was trying to deliver an acceptance speech for best male video and in turn embarrassed the rest of the band.

“When Dave is in front of an audience, he cannot help himself,” says Hill. “If there’s a crowd, the switch is on.”

An MTV VJ (played by Vanessa Aspillaga) narrates the tale, which flashes back to when Eddie and his brother Alex (portrayed by Adina Verson) immigrated to America from the Netherlands with their parents in the ‘60s, to when the band formed in Pasadena, California, in the ‘70s, to VH’s reunion album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” in 2012.

The play even includes Van Halen’s marriage to TV sitcom star actress Valerie Bertinelli, who is comedically played by Omer Abbas Salem.

“I tried to write Val as a hero,” says Staats. “I wanted her to be the reasonable one. I didn’t want her to be a woman who comes in the middle of band and messes it up.”

The heart of the show is the push and pull between Eddie and Dave and the magic that sparks off their union.

“It’s like they just can’t quit each other,” says Hill. “There’s something special there. When they play together, it’s like lightning in a bottle.”


WHEN | WHERE Now through Feb. 10, Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16 St., Manhattan

INFO 866-811-4111, atlantictheater.org


Stay Frosty

January 30, 2019 at 2:50 pm Quote #60186


Extended! Eddie and Dave is now playing through February 17
Tickets: https://atlantictheater.org/production/eddie-and-dave/tickets/


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