October 29, 2020

1997-04-27 – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

1997 04 27 Pittsburgh_Post_Gazette_Sun__Apr_27__1997_

By Ed Masley

Post-Gazetle Stall WIIIO!

he’s the Gyosy. The Acid
Queen. She ll tear your soul
a

part.

Well, actually, these days
the Gypsy doesn’t use the Acid
Queen moniker. Gypsy is so much
more family-oriented.

The song is “The Acid Queen,”
sure, but when “Tommy” went
Broadway, the drug dealer’s name
was changed to protect the inno-
cence.

See what a little culture can do
for the counter-culture?

As Shari Richards, the local mu-
sician who’s sin 'ng “The Acid
Queen” in Ken argaro’s produc-
tion of “Tommy,” explains, “The
name was a little more Palatable
for the masses, I guess. ’

Pete Townshend himself
changed the Acid Queen’s name for
the Broadway production. And Gar-
garo has taken additional steps to
see that the kids are alright.

“They‘ve toned down some of the
scenes that were a little on the vio-
lent side or maybe had some sexual
overtones,” says Richards. “Gar-
garo takes a very strong stand in
making their shows accessible to
kids. I’m really glad to be involved
in a company like that, because I
really feel strongly about bringing
musnc to kids.”

Though she’s spent a good part
of her 31 years on one stage or an-
other, this is the first time the local
musician has tried her hand at the-
ater.

“Some of the people from Gar-
garo Productions come out to see
us regularly at Nick’s Fat City, and
they said, ‘Do you mind if we rec-
ommend that they check you out
for a part?’ ” she explains. “I said,
‘Sure.’ So they came down, and
they were excited.”

Rehearsals are going well.

“Basically, what I’m doing is per-
forming it as I perform,” she says.
“They’re not asking me to sing m a
way that’s not me.”

So is there some acting
involved?

“I have to do some acting as far
. as the way I move around and stuff
when I’m singing, but there are no
speaking lines,” she says. “It’s a
Singing role.

“But in case there’s any confu-
sion,” she adds with a laugh, “the
moves aren’t mine because, you

Singing ‘Acz'a’ Queen’
in ‘memy’brz'ngs out
the Gypsy in musician

Amanda Crocker, '9“. plays Tommy at age 10, and Shari Richards is the G s in “To " h'
Wednesday at the Byham Theater. yp Y mmy, W ICh opens

know, it is the Acid Queen.”

Well no, it’s the Gypsy, but you
get the picture.

And speaking of pictures, she
has seen the movie before and en-
joyed the performance of Tina “The
Acid Queen” Turner.”

“But then, I researched the role,
and Patti Labelle has done the Acid
Queen, too,” she says. “And I love
Patti Labelle as much as I love
Tina, so to hear her rendition just
floored me. And I would like to
draw on Patti Labelle. A little. If
they don’t mind.”

OK, so she loves Tina Turner.
She‘s floored by Labelle. Is she into
the Who?

There's a moment of silence. a
grin and a quietly s oken no.

“I probably shou dn’t admit to
that,” she says. “As a guitar player,
I really like Pete Townshend’s play-
in , but I don’t really listen to the
W 0 much around the house. Or in
the car.”

She bites her lip.

“Or anywhere else.”

She’s enjoying the theater,

STAGE PREVIEW

‘Tommy’

Where: Byham Theater.
' Downtown.

When: 7:30 pm. Wednesday
through Friday; 2 and 7:30 pm.
Saturday; 2 pm. next Sunday; and
7:30 pm. May 6.

Tlckets: $10 to $26; 456-6666.

though.

“It’s like a family,” she says. “All
the actors, everyone behind the
scenes, the technical eople, the
li ting director . . . I ike that.

T at‘s a new experience for me."
It’s been a busy year for Rich-
:ards. She’s hoping to have her first
solo release in stores b the end of

May. She’s singing the lues as part

of a super group, Pittsburgh’s
Women of the Blues. She’s still got
the Tuesday gig every week on the
South Side at N ick’s Fat City. And
now, the theater.

“I don’t know if this will just be a

one-shot deal, but if it would lead to
other offers, I would be thrilled,”
she says. “I really enjoy the atmos-
phere.”

It’s not all that different from
playing a cover, she says.

“I do cover tunes, and I try to
make them my own,” she says, “be-
cause I’m mainl a performer. I do
write, but I just ove rforming. I
love just conveyin t at emotion
and trying to get t at across. I was
intimidated at first, but the lmew
that I’m a musician, not a eater
major or anything, so I figure if
they had faith, OK, I trust them.”

Asked if she’s thought about tak-
ing some acting lessons, she hesi-
tates.

“Maybe it’s crossed my mind,”
she says. “But this is a good chance
for me to get my feet wet and see. I
know right now I really like it a lot,
but more important is will the audi-
ence like what I’m doing. I think it
would be wise for me to see what
they think before I take any steps.
It’s not really for me to say if I’m
meant to do it or not.”