As an actor-dancer-choreographer of impressive avoirdupois, Lawrence Goldhuber decided—no surprise—to skewer the fat cats who control U.S. national and international policy by casting men who weigh in (Sidney Boone, Eric Stephen Booth, Thom Fogarty, Hapi Phace, and himself) plus two women in fat suits (Rosalynde Leblanc and Micki Saba) as the conservative Roman senators in his new Julius Caesar Superstar. Only two of the men (Fogarty and Goldhuber) are trained dancers, but all cavort to Vivaldi in senatorial games—backstabbing through a grand right and left, circling gaily, playing patty-cake, ending with an all-fall-down. Liz Prince’s voluminous, red-bordered white togas fly in the wake of these elephantine negotiations. Goldhuber’s Caesar is not Shakespeare’s. Although golden-boy ballet star Robert La Fosse, up on the church balcony flanked by trumpeters, does indeed “thrice refuse a kingly crown” (offered by a disembodied hand), he’s not so much impelled by modesty as he is holding out for the prettiest coronet. In a work that charmingly, sometimes recklessly, blends hilarity, tragedy, and camp, Caesar’s greatest sin seems to be that he’s thin, gay, and just a teeny bit arrogant. Not your picture-book liberal. His circle of pique turns could make a stout fellow jealous, although the senators all mime, “You were great!”
It’s when the miniskirted guards (Alberto Denis, Marcelo Rueda Duran, Valentine Ortolaza Jr., and the wonderfully nimble, ardent Arthur Aviles) remove their breastplates, bow low to expose their bare butts, and start massaging Caesar that the senators leave in shock. Too proud (and maybe too aroused) to listen to the small, white-haired female soothsayer (Micki Wesson in a fine, stern performance), Caesar falls back and the guards swarm over him. Ides of March? No big deal.
Rumors grow during a visually alluring bathhouse scene, with towel-draped senators hanging out on the risers opposite the audience. The translucent drop in front of them and Kathy Kaufmann’s lighting convey a steamy atmosphere, and conspiratorial whispers invade Geoff Gersh’s dramatic score, some of it played live by cellist Loren Kiyoshi Dempster. Before long, the emperor is blindfolded, stripped, stabbed with switchblades, and left on the floor in a tangle of red ribbons. His, however, is an operatic death. Handel’s famous “Largo” rouses him to back somersaults and attitude turns, and he expertly reprises all the action—the prancing soldiers, the false-friend senators, his own hubris—before collapsing for good. Whoops, not yet. Enter Keely Garfield as a quietly imperious Lady Macbeth. When she’s not scrubbing at her hands, she’s making Caesar support her in a pas de deux, after which he’s ready to be led off to Hades through a poof of smoke.
In a somewhat heavy-handed stars-and-stripes finale, the jolly right-wingers belt, “The sun is shining just for us!” and confetti rains down. Come back little Caesar!