Houston Music

Dazed And Confused 2: A Rock Of Ages For The '90s

Broadway loves nostalgia, and they also love a sure thing. That's why most of the biggest hit musicals on Broadway right now are jukebox musicals that string together narratives out of popular songs. Musicals like Movin' Out, Jersey Boys, and especially Rock of Ages utilize hits from the past few decades to pack audiences into theaters, which is all fine and dandy, but Rocks Off has been wondering: What about the '90s?

The 1990s, particularly the grunge era, are ripe for the picking, as far as nostalgia goes. And while we're at it, you know how Broadway love a musical version of a hit movie? The Wedding Singer and Legally Blonde have both had huge success in their Broadway incarnations. Well, why not a Dazed and Confused musical? 70's nostalgia is still pretty big, but the best part is that once the first one completes its run, why not a sequel set in 1993, the year Rick Linklater's film was released?

Boom. Two of Broadway's most successful current formulas, brought together. The only thing is that due to the subject matter of so many 90's songs, it would have to be significantly darker than anything currently on Broadway...


Lee High School, the suburbs of Austin, Tex., 1993

Jimmy "Purple" Hayes, 15-year-old orphan who lives with his aunt, has long been a nobody in his school, keeping mostly to himself and his three best friends, Violet, Jeremy, and Derrick, three fellow loner/lackers who also constitute the rest of his band, Hideous Princess. Their lives are simple, and a bit boring (Blind Melon, "No Rain").

Things begin to change for Jimmy when Hideous Princess performs a song he's written at the school talent show (Smashing Pumpkins, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"). He begins to become, if not exactly popular, then at least well-liked around school, and one of his new friends encourages him to enter his song into a local radio contest, which he does. When asked why, Jimmy reveals that he is sick of life in the suburbs and longs to see the world and achieve freedom (Soundgarden, "Rusty Cage") despite being only 15.

His music teacher, one Mr. Ron Slater, who served as a roadie for bands like Aerosmith and KISS in the '70s and '80s, warns Jimmy of the dangers of being the "next big thing" in an environment of lies, superficiality, and competition (Sonic Youth, "100%") but Jimmy remains determined to get out of town. Jimmy and the band record the song and send their demo tape to local radio station KNNC, or K-NACK.

Jeremy and Violet, who play lead guitar and bass, respectively, in Hideous Princess, are starting to experience trouble in their relationship; the two have been dating for two years. Jeremy reveals that he has many insecurities regarding their relationship, not the least of which is Violet's growing friendship with Jimmy.

Violet tries to soothe him, but Jeremy reveals himself as a prematurely bitter bundle of frazzled nerves and sexual angst (Afghan Whigs, "Debonair") as a result of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend. Their relationship on precarious terms, the tension is somewhat relieved when Derrick and Jimmy enter with news that their demo won the contest, and the secret grand prize was announced: They get to open for Alice In Chains on six dates.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Seaborn Gray