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He's Modern Ortho-Rock

June 29, 2006 By:
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Scotch and soda? Scotch and seltzer!

How else to celebrate the big doings of "Bright Lights, Big City" sensation Paul Scott Goodman, the Scottish Jewish composer whose reworked venture based on the Jay McInerny best-seller of booze, babes and bravura is the intoxicating pull at the Prince Music Theatre now through July 2.

The Modern Orthodox Goodman is best man at the wedding of words and music as demonstrated at the Prince. But it is a somewhat unorthodox story that brought him to this stage.

The former punk rocker must have felt he was being punk'd when asked to score a musical about a drug-scoring Manhattan magazine writer bring crushed under the dynamic duo of coke and kamikaze sex.

The self-destructive stage "hero" doesn't so much want his MTV; he is MTV at its most vile and vicious.

And they hand this assignment to a nice guy who grew up part of the Avram Greenbaum Players in Glasgow, where "My Fair Lady" was adapted into "Hi There, Sadie"?

Oh, why can't the English learn to speak … Yiddish?

But when it comes to music, Goodman rocks - and that rock music one hears at the Prince is a crowning touch for the composer who has opened for Joan Armitrading and Average White Band.

This is not your average Jewish musician; Goodman also did public relations for that most public of rock bands, the Who.

And who do most size Goodman up against?

Jonathan Larsen, the late short-lived composer whose long-running "Rent" is still paying off on Broadway. The two were friends "and friendly rivals."

"We were the two downtown guys with rock musicals," recalls Goodman. "It was hard for me to escape comparisons, but time has gone by."

They had even collaborated on a TV pilot together, but Goodman is flying solo, hoping to land this "Big City" big baby on Broadway some day.

"Wouldn't that be the ultimate?" he says, the Scottish burr adding a scat to the sound and fury of what it means to be a "Big City" big-time composer.

Fantasy fueled on fun?

"I originally envisioned it as a 90-minute musical without intermission, like one big drug trip," says Goodman.

There was no ecstacy when the original reviews for Goodman's show debuted earlier at the New York Theater Workshop before being taken over and reworked by Sh-K-Boom Records, whose vision, along with Goodman's, is on stage now.

This is just one version of the Paul Scott Goodman fellow Scots and musical fans know. He also does a one-man show that ponders such joke-laden Jewish journeys as "a funny thing happened on the way to the mikveh."

Goodman's awash in possibilities now, mixing midrash and music along the way. His own story of being modern ortho-rock is a modern-day tale not-so-out-of-the-ordinary: "I grew up in suburban Glasgow, in a community of 10,000 Jews; had a Bar Mitzvah, went to cheder and went out with shiksas - everything young Jewish men want to do."

While 1984 - the year he moved to New York after some time in London - wasn't an Orwellian one, it went well for him. And now, he's reworking a musical on which he collaborated with his wife - very much Jewish - called "Rooms."

And that, he says, has found room on the agenda of director Scott Schwartz, famous on his own even if his father Steve weren't so wickedly rich as composer of "Godspell" and "Wicked."

And just how would Goodman's own father and mother - who, while involved in the Avram Greenbaum Players, never thought their son would be playing for real in a business that eats its young - react to his newfound status as a player?

"They'd say, 'Oy gevalt!' " laughs their son, the composer.

 

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