'Coming Soon' at Z Space: a rousing, arousing new musical

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Tuesday April 19, 2022
Share this Post:
musician-playwright Rachel Lark
musician-playwright Rachel Lark

There were giggles in the audience when Rachel Lark first sang a familiar nursery rhyme lyric on stage in 2013. Given that she was appearing as a special musical guest at Bawdy Storytelling, the San Francisco-based "Moth for Pervs," it was clear that "this little piggy" was going to have a different meaning than usual.

Or would it?

Executing the kind of double-reverse entendre that marks her no mere dirty ditty-smith but a true songwriter, Lark, whose stage musical, Coming Soon, opens at Z Space this week, was debuting "Fuck My Toe," a piggy pig's pleading for footlong love, which also includes lines like "I've got a corny request" and "I don't want to seem callous." It's a kick. In the pants. Ba-dum-bum!

With success of that number, Oakland-based Lark —who, in addition to working as a touring singer-songwriter is a creativity coach and sex/relationship educator specializing in the polyamorous and queer communities— began to write a new song for each Bawdy Storytelling installment, based on the evening's theme.

While she had written and recorded songs influenced by longtime favorites including Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and Joan Osborne, in an interview last week, Lark told the Bay Area Reporter that, "I found that writing for a loose assignment was a great way to get into the creative process for me. You didn't need to have some requisite inner angst or sadness to start writing a song. I had been a theater kid growing up, and after producing three albums of original music, I started to think about taking on a musical."

Coming Soon, which Lark has been developing over five years and which benefited from a concentrated period of work during the pandemic, has sex on its mind, but is more serious, and less schticky, than her Bawdy tunes. Partially inspired by sex-positive Broadway successes including Rent, Spring Awakening and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it focuses on what Lark and other sex educators call The Orgasm Gap between men and women in contemporary society.

The production features Lark, five additional cast members and a six-piece band under the direction of Rachel Dart, another artist-cum-sex educator who has helmed shows at Princeton University and the Actors Theater of Louisville, and facilitated sexuality-related workshops for the Office of the Mayor of New York City.

The plot follows Maggie, who has been faking orgasms throughout the eight years of her relationship with Mark, as she embarks on an adventure in pursuit of sexual satisfaction and interpersonal harmony.

"This is not a campy show," says Lark. "It's entertaining, for sure, but I also hope that audiences end up leaving with some tools they need to talk about serious topics together."

Coming Soon, through April 30 at Z Space, 499 Alabama St. $25-$69. (415) 626-0453. www.zspace.org www.rachellark.com

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.