May V. Oskan’s rock opera “The Ape Woman,” which premiered at The Pit Stop in Oak Bluffs last week, was a success by most all standards and certainly by Pit Stop standards.
Scheduled for only two performances, a third was added due to demand. According to The Pit Stop’s Don Muckerheide, there were only a few empty seats opening night last Wednesday, August 29, but for the second night on Thursday, there was only standing room available, which he said may have resulted in a record crowd for The Pit Stop. The third performance, Saturday evening, was also sold out.
The opera is built around the story of a 19th-century Mexican woman who spent most of her adult life being gawked at in freak shows because of a rare condition that gave her the appearance of an ape woman.
The impact of the music and the performances reduced what could have been a garish story to a through-line of narration on which Ms. Oskan hung her superb collection of songs. She exercised her considerable skills as a songwriter, a performer, and arranger directing the skilled band and performers she had behind her. There were extended standing ovations each night.
The featured musicians were Ms. Oskan’s two sisters, Nina Violet and Marciana Jones, who sang and played viola and autoharp, respectively; her mother, Michele Jones, on guitar; Adam Lipsky playing piano and organ; Rob Myers on drums; and Jerome Badot, playing bass. The speaking roles were exuberantly barked and spoken by actors Christopher Kann, Christopher Roberts, Justin Taylor, Adam Petkus, and Paul Padua.
Ms. Oskan, Mr. Muckerheide’s daughter, plans to continue to work on the show. She hopes to develop a Spanish language version and to stage it again in San Francisco sometime this winter.