The Big Bang blasts from the past

The Big Bang blasts from the past

NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT: Kyle Vespestad (left) and John Bates perform during a rehearsal of The Big Bang. The pair are reprising their roles from when they performed the play in 1997. Courtesy photo

>SEE IT

What: The Big Bang
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, April 10 through May 23. Fri-Sat shows 8 to 10 p.m., Sun shows 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: Roxy's Downtown, 412-1/2 E. Douglas
How much: $25, available via phone at (316) 265-4400

"Free Food And Frontal Nudity" screamed the title of a show which was running in San Francisco in the summer of 1997 when Cabaret Oldtown founder (now Roxy's Downtown Artistic Director) Christine Tasheff perused the national theater headlines, as was her Sunday ritual at the time. The description of the show was enough for her to make a plan before leaving Barnes & Noble that day — she would travel to SF to catch the show.

What Tasheff saw at the Cable Car Theatre in San Francisco told her by intermission that she had to bring this show to her theater in Wichita.

"It was the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen," she said. "You couldn't even begin to describe it."

Rights took some haggling to secure, and the title had been changed from Free Food and Frontal Nudity to The Big Bang, but once the particulars were arranged the show was cast with John Bates and Kyle Vespestad, who enjoyed a sold-out run.

The relatively unknown show went on to become one of the most requested shows every year since, but the circumstances never seemed right. That made it a natural choice when selecting the first season for Roxy's Downtown. Not only that, but the original duo cast in 1997 were willing and available to reprise their roles in the new production.

The official synopsis for The Big Bang reads: "Boyd and Jed have written the most expensive Broadway musical ever, budgeted at $83.5 million. Their goal is to get 'the audience' (their potential backers) to invest in one of the greatest theatrical events of all time. No expense has been spared. Their show, titled The Big Bang, starts with the dawn of time and carries forward to the present day. Set in an apartment in NYC, Jed and Boyd show the potential investors highlights from the show, playing all of the roles themselves. From Adam and Eve to Columbus and Isabella, from Nefertiti to Pocahontas, from the Antebellum South to ancient Rome to Woodstock, the apartment becomes as much of the show as the actors do."

"The Big Bang is one of my favorite shows I've ever done," Vespestad said. "I love working with John Bates. This show is brilliantly written, very clever and very funny. It's weird how much of the music and lines came back to me after about 15 years of not looking at it."

The Big Bang, starring John Bates and Kyle Vespestad, opens on Friday, April 10 at Roxy's Downtown and runs through May 23. Tickets and info are available via (316) 265-4400. For more information, go to www.roxysdowntown.com.