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April 14th, 2003
New wheels for Axl with local musical
By MIKE ROSS -- Edmonton Sun

EDMONTON -- Poor Axl Rose - all alone with only the name of his band to comfort him. The rest of the original Guns N' Roses guys are long gone.

For every month that goes by with no new G N' R album, the humiliations pile up. The Offspring recently announced they're stealing Axl's title, Chinese Democracy. "You snooze, you lose," singer Dexter Holland said. "Axl ripped off my braids, so I ripped off his album title."

And now a trio of wiseacre chicks from Edmonton have rendered G N' R classics into show tunes for a new musical called Paradise City. It opens tonight at the Varscona Theatre.

Sweet Child of Mine is now a '30s swing number with a little soft shoe; Reckless Life is given the Michael Jackson treatment; Welcome to the Jungle is funkified; Paradise City is transformed into a gospel hootenanny; and You Could Be Mine is spindled into a jazzy torch song complete with the singer in the sequined red dress. That's where the idea came from. The members of Panties Productions always wanted to hear the line, "With your bitch slap rappin' and your cocaine tongue" as Jessica Rabbit might do it, according to musical director Dana Wylie.

However, she's quick to point out that what seems like a hilarious idea over beer doesn't necessarily translate to a full-length musical. "Once you come to putting a show together, you realize the novelty of hearing You Could Be Mine as a lounge number will only last for about five minutes, and in the end you have to make the arrangements good and you have to make the play work dramatically."

The plot is a modernized version of a classic Mob film set in the '30s. Think Chicago set at the Whiskey a Go-Go. A wide-eyed farm boy comes to seek his fortune in Paradise City, is smitten by a woman with a troubled past, falls into the clutches of the sinister Mob boss and in the end lets everybody see "a little glimmer of light in Paradise City," Wylie says. Cue gospel choir: "Take me down to the Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, oh, oh, take me ho-oh-oh-home. Hallelujah!"

Get the idea?

Wylie, who hasn't been a G N' R fan since Grade 9, has a renewed appreciation for the material.

"I realized that once you pare these songs down to the melody, a lot of them are really beautiful," she says. "The songs are really well crafted. I think people who've never heard these tunes before and have no idea who Guns N' Roses are can just enjoy the music and enjoy the play."

What about actual G N'R fans?

"I played a couple of songs at the open stage at O'Bryne's the other night and there was one guy sitting at the back that is a hardcore Guns N' Roses fan and he said there were tears in his eyes when I sang My Michelle."

Tears of joy, laughter, sorrow?

"Maybe tears of nostalgia," Wylie says, "maybe taking him back to his Appetite for Destruction days."

And now: Appetite for Broadway? Hey, that might make a swell title for Axl's new album, if he ever gets around to it.

Paradise City plays through April 20. Call 433-3399 for details.

Source(s): http://www.canoe.ca  
Thanks to: Joaquin, Tyrod 
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