June 24, 2014 12:21 AM   Subscribe

This American Life did a show at Brooklyn Academy Of Music earlier this month. As a salute to the space they were in, they did a show [audio download, transcript, streaming available here] which adapted radio journalism into opera (including a world-premiere from Philip Glass), Broadway Musical (in which a story from 2011 about undercover cops looking to bust drug dealers in high schools gets adapted by an actual Broadway composer and starring actual Broadway performers), and a current live-television performer adapts one of her stories as a radio drama. A video of the performance, including nearly another hour's worth of journalism-adapted-into-performance is available, Louis CK-style, for $5.
posted by hippybear (16 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
The drug bust musical was brilliant. But now I really want to know what happened to the poor kid who was entrapped by that whole thing. I wish the show had given some kind of follow-up like "now, three years later, the felony conviction has been overturned, justice prevailed and the world if full of fairness and unicorns" but alas I fear that the lack of such a statement suggests the kid is in jail, life ruined.
posted by gubenuj at 1:11 AM on June 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

alas I fear that the lack of such a statement suggests the kid is in jail, life ruined.

It was 3 years probation. I have no idea about any follow-up, other than your assumption about his punishment is already overblown.
posted by hippybear at 1:14 AM on June 24, 2014

Oh, and (I'm watching while I comment here), Justin appears onstage during the video, and there is inconclusive follow-up to that story.
posted by hippybear at 1:20 AM on June 24, 2014

This was all excellent (especially 21 Chump St) until it was revealed that Ira Glass is a vertical video guy… :-( :-( :-(
posted by robcorr at 2:08 AM on June 24, 2014

I only caught the first two segments, but they were brilliant. The musical obviously sympathized with Justin's point of view. I was astonished that such an obvious case of entrapment led even to probation. I also noted how the musical indicates the undercover cop's ambivalent feelings about what she did because, well, yeah.
posted by Gelatin at 3:09 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I was in the audience, and Justin came out and seemed to be doing well enough to goof around on stage with the actor who portrayed him.

The whole show was a lot of fun.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 4:09 AM on June 24, 2014

Judging from the description of the downloadable video, this needs a stephinmerritt tag. Anyone know exactly what his contribution was?
posted by Mothlight at 4:55 AM on June 24, 2014

I also noted how the musical indicates the undercover cop's ambivalent feelings about what she did because, well, yeah.

Is that something that was invented for this adaptation, or did they do some sort of follow-up interview with her? Because this is from the transcript:
Robbie Brown
When I talked to the officer who plays Naomi, she said she had no regrets about her undercover work. She's a cop. And she sees it the way a cop does.

These kids need to wake up. They need to realize they can't be doing this.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:56 AM on June 24, 2014

I sat, enraptured, a big dopey grin on my face for the entirety of the 21 Chump St segment. I don't think I have ever enjoyed an hour of radio as much as I enjoyed that TAL. I'd heard the original undercover cop episode when it first aired, and thought it was fascinating. Put it to music and I was in LOVE.

I really think that they should have an entire show of Musical News. I would seriously double my sustaining membership AND carry the tote bag everywhere, with the logo side out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mothlight, Stephin Merritt performed some songs. Also the mom in the third(?) story happened to used to babysit him.
posted by of strange foe at 8:53 AM on June 24, 2014

What I gotta do to be wit you?
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:01 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

That musical was mind blowing. The duet between her and him...holy cow.

Yeah, I wish there was more followup for the kid, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2014

Holy cow, the musical was amazing. I'm rolling it back and listening to it again. I'll probably buy the soundtrack on iTunes, too. How long did it take for them to put that together? It's boggling my mind.

I also quite enjoyed Mike Birbiglia's bit about the mutant mice. Mostly because I am a sucker for cat stories, and for Mike Birbiglia (in that order).

Also I couldn't help but giggle when Ira introduced Phillip Glass as his cousin.
posted by thereemix at 8:14 AM on June 25, 2014

I will say now, pony up the $5 for the video download. Being able to actually SEE the musical is even more amazing than just listening to it. And the opera bit is done pretty perfectly. And there are at least two entire segments which are not part of the radio broadcast. And what was part of the broadcast was edited so there is greater depth and information in the actual performance.

Plus... the curtain call must be seen to be believed.
posted by hippybear at 11:15 PM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, days later I finally have the 2 hours to stream the video.

I...still can't figure out what the heck was going on in the opera section even when watching it but hoo boy, the costumes. The Germans wearing USA flag fanny packs and the Bruunhilda maid outfit....

Oddly enough, the duet wasn't as affecting to me watching it as opposed to listening to it until the end with the kiss.

But oh my god, that guy playing Justin is fantastic. I love how the actor and real life Justin look so much alike except for a few inches in height and hair.

The cat and mouse...well, I would have liked to have seen them ah, act it out a wee bit longer than they did. But that was a great surprise reveal!

Ira's laryngitis story is adorable.

Could not believe they broke out a cardboard cutout of Sasheer to pantomime flying through the air.

"Doctors don't like sleepy bitches." Okay, that whole story was GREAT. Especially Nicole.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 AM on July 2, 2014

Over a week later and I still have "Everybody's got a cousin who can hook them up with something" running through my head.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:04 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Is philosophy a bunch of empty ideas?   |   It was late June Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments