(editor’s note: By the very nature of the show, and the title, this article will contain profanity, so it might not be for the kiddies…….)
First off, a coupla paragraphs of facts, then some of the usual senseless/nonsense Ricki C. commentary……..
Fact: The Shadowbox Live production of Fuck Cancer: The Musical returns beginning this Thursday, January 17th, and continues through Saturday, January 26th, ticket info and all that good stuff found here: Shadowbox Live, Fuck Cancer: The Musical.
Fact: Fuck Cancer: The Musical grew out of an idea by Shadowbox founder & creative mainstay Stev Guyer after he was diagnosed with cancer. There’s a really informative article from Columbus Underground about show author Jimmy Mak and the creation of the musical from when the show debuted last summer linked here, in case you wanna read all about it: Columbus Underground / F#(K Cancer: The Musical. (I LOVE links. As a lazy rock & roll roadie/blogger, they make my job SO much easier.)
Fact: You should go see this show. I will explain why in my commentary.
Commentary: I first heard about this production in a phone call from my good friend & brother in the rock & roll Ed Hamell (aka Hamell On Trial). Sometime in the spring of 2018 Ed phoned to say he was gonna be writing the songs for a musical about people dying of cancer for Shadowbox Live. “A musical about people dying of cancer?” I said to Ed, “That sounds cheery. I think you’re just the man for the job.” Hamell and Shadowbox go way back. In the late 1990’s – YEARS before I became Ed’s road manager in the early days of the 21st century – Shadowbox would book Hamell On Trial into their 2Co’s Cabaret venue on High Street in the Short North.
I have to say, though, at no time in the ten years from 2000-2010 that Ed and I crisscrossed these United States do I remember either of us saying, “You know what would be a KILLER (pun intended) career move? Writing the songs for a musical about people dying of cancer.” But here we are in 2019 and I have to admit, Fuck Cancer: The Musical is a pretty genius idea by both Mak & Hamell, and once the Shadowbox band & actors breathe life into the story and the songs, the whole deal becomes a genuine tour de force.
Full disclosure: At the time Ed and Jimmy were collaborating on the writing of the show, both my beloved sister Dianne and my dear friend Mike Parks – the lead guitarist of Colin Gawel’s band The League Bowlers – had just died of cancer. (My brother had also just then passed away from complications of heart disease.) Given those realities, I can’t really say I was prepared to actually ATTEND the production when it debuted in June, 2018.
In actual fact it took me until late summer 2018, to buck up and go to the show on August 26th, the very last day of the first run of the musical. Ed had come into town to see the show for the first time, to witness the culmination of the songs he had written but had never actually seen staged since the early rehearsals back in April or May.
By the intermission of the show, I truly, truly regretted waiting until the very last day to see Fuck Cancer: The Musical, because it meant I couldn’t go see it again the next day; it really was THAT great, and THAT powerful. Jimmy Mak’s book and Ed’s songs melded into a truly heartfelt, moving story. I fully admit, I was initially concerned that the show might be cloying, or overly sentimental, or – at the other end of the spectrum – too cutting, and therefor painful to watch.
In the end, Fuck Cancer: The Musical was none of those things: it was simply wonderful, and moving, and simultaneously heartfelt AND heartbreaking, in the best possible way.
And the best thing? This Thursday, I get to go see it again. If you haven’t seen the show, I gotta say: GO! If you’ve seen it before I’m betting – like me – you’ll wanna go again. Do it. – Ricki C. / January 14th, 2019.