Tunnelvision is a rock opera set during the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s. The musical was written by Tim Cain over a 10-year period and started out as an album for his award-winning band, Boys’ Entrance.
The show begins with Tim (Jimmy Dudding) singing in a gay bar. Some men at the bar make fun of him for being flamboyant, but Tim accepts the title Mr. Sissy with pride. Dudding gives the first song his all, dancing and writhing in platform boots and what might be the coolest jacket I have ever seen. It was sort of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, except gay and awesome.
The opening number is followed by an immediate, if not abrupt, delve into the existential as Tim sings about how he sometimes wishes he could procreate and be a father. But his crisis is forgotten when he sees a handsome, brooding stranger, Troy. Tim sings about how much he wants him. But Troy (Stevie Rayder) is closeted. In the next song Troy belts “I’m straight” like 12 times, then they have sex.
Troy takes some time to explore his new non-closeted lifestyle. He hooks up with a wide variety of only white dudes. At one point there are figures in bodysuits, who might be kinky aliens (?) Tim and Troy meet again later, as they confront sex addiction and each other.
All the cast members give committed performances and seem to have a lot of fun, despite the tragic undertones of the plot. Dudding and Rayder have serious chemistry. They infuse each dramatic lyric with extra melodrama while belting out song after song and undressing and redressing and undressing again. The most poignant moment comes when Dudding sings an a cappella soliloquy.
Some of the show was an enigma due to loud music and muffled mics. But such is the plight of a rock opera — a designation well-deserved, by the way, since Boys’ Entrance rocks and rolls like nobody’s business.
See Tunnelvision for a great band and lots of pride.