By Alex Distefano
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Let me introduce you to the Young Man and his battle between good and evil: He's an innocent soul who heads to the big city, drawn by the Magneta nirvana-like stage he hopes to reach while driving his magical vehicle, the Eggmobile. This ready-to-hatch transport was given to him by his great-grandmother's lover, who for decades had kept it locked in his son's room after a boating accident ended his life. So the Young Man leaves his homeland for the City of Dreams, and "says goodbye to everyone in sight, his lovers, his friends, his grandmother, his 10 sisters and brothers, his three grandfathers, his great-grandmother's lover." Hello, hello, hello, Eggmobile . . .
The rock opera, conceived by Puerto Rican musician-director Ricardo Ortiz, who also plays the Young Man, is a musical jambalaya fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms, roots, rock, reggae, and bossa nova. Armed with his sharp Dyna-felt hat, electric guitar, and bass voice, Ortiz is the perfect image of the adventure traveler. The journey begins, and as if by magic a parallel twist to the story emerges: The audience is made to feel that we too are riding the Eggmobile. We travel with the music: congas, guitars, drums, a bass, a sax, a chorus, a flute, even a big black cat lead the way. The drums don't lose a beat, the trumpet's bleat sets our blood jumping, the vocals mesmerize, and in a split second all instruments explode, spreading a contagious energy we can no longer ignore.
Mr. Ortiz is accompanied on vocals by the lovely Mrs. White, played by Lorenda Robinson, who evokes the great blues singers of oldher voice throbs with the power of a pure heart. Her persona is awesome and bewitching when she sings, "I'm the force behind all that's good/I'll get rid of all your blues, and the demons that will be sent to you/I'll help you drive them away."
Evil is personified by the aptly named Mr. Dark, played by Martin Huq, whose mission is to gobble up the Young Man's soul: "I don't want no other young man/I'll stick you in my demon gang/I'll get you red wings, a tail, and some horny horns." As Mr. Huq slithers across the stage in Mick Jagger fashion, his sinister agenda takes possession of the audience's attention.
When asked where the idea for a rock opera about an Eggmobile came from, Ortiz says, "When I arrived in New York, I encountered more closed doors than I expected. No shows. No opportunities. No faith. Nada. The only real thing in this limbo was the certainty that there were many people like me trying to do the same thing and being continuously turned away. So I came up with a way to express the hardships every artist encounters when they arrive in the city, and although The Young Man & the Eggmobile is an autobiographical account of my journey here, I would characterize it as the autobiography of the NYC artist."
Because the journey is a work in progress, we still don't know where the Young Man is heading or if he will ever reach the Magnet, but does it really matter? Those of us that have had the opportunity to be a part of the Eggmobile experience have come to understand that what's important is the feeling of connection one gets with the music and musicians alike. Get ready to fly with the angels.