Axmad and Havasxon’s Sound of Uzbek opens January 9th at the Overmeyer Cultural Center at 8pm, and if critics are right, this is one show not to miss. The production, crudely based on the Rogers and Hammerstein classic, features Dolores Schnauser as Maria (Muattarbonu) and Oshknar Popinschlavokatzka as Captain von Trapp (Gulshanoy).
It was five years in the making.
Axmad and Havasxon, who met in Tashkent’s UYA 64/71 prison, are tight-lipped about production costs, but 20th Century O’g’ilroy (also from Tashkent) told The Bugle Ms. Schnauser’s contract alone was “in the three figures.”
That’s quite a step for Dolores, who was wren-bait five years ago, but the producers wanted a plump, middle-aged woman to play Maria, and they got one.
The story, of course, is timeless. Even so, Axmad and Havasxon have infused the mores of the West with the charm of Uzbekistan to give it a modern twist. The result is pure magic.
Maria, a middle-aged lesbian questioning her sexual identity, is pledged to a life of subjugation in a Sunni mosque. She’s sold to an Uzbek seaman whose drunken bouts left him with seven kids. She steals a rubob (lute) and is beaten mercilessly, but floats through the air, mesmerizing the kids, seaman and all of Uzbekistan.
Axmad and Havasxon admit their new musical deviates – some might say butchers – the original, but they insist their rewrite works for a modern audience. And critics, hailing the production as “daring,” “incredulous” and “beyond description,” seem to agree. Some are predicting the Uzbek production will gross more in the first week than Possum N Taters in an entire year. Others are less optimistic.
“The part of Julie Andrews played by a floating lesbian from Uzbekistan? says Syl Sampson of Sampson Bros. Literary Agency. “It won’t last a week.”
The Sound of Uzbek opens at the new Overmeyer Cultural Center on January 9th.
See you there!