May 22-28, 2008, Issue 660

Metropolitan Room, May 25, June 29

ROBERT Altman’s 1975 film Nashville took ensemble storytelling to such virtuoso heights that critic Pauline Kael called it a “radical, evolutionary leap.” A scathing lampoon of presidential politics, it interwove the tales of 24 characters, many of them thinly-veiled spoofs of Grand Ole Opry idols. The country world hated Nashville, but its score was a hit. Nearly all the songs were penned by the actors, including Karen Black and Ronee Blakely; Keith Carradine’s sexy “I’m Easy” won an Oscar.

The film has come back to life at the Metropolitan Room, where ten singers and musicians are tipping their cowboy hats to its cult-favorite soundtrack album. The show’s stars, Daryl Glenn and Jo Lynn Burks, have voices so golden and robust voices that you may wonder why these singers aren’t better known. Glenn, a genial, guitar-playing teddy bear, did years of theater in his native Kentucky before becoming a Met Room host. Burks, once Miss Alabama, is a big-haired, honey-dripping bombshell; she also the pianist and musical director, skills she’s employed in a slew of musicals. The rubber-faced, multi-MAC Award-winning goofball Jay Rogers adds his endearing silliness to the mix.

Nashville’s cheerful ditties, such as “It Don’t Worry Me,” gained an irony onscreen that can’t be copied here, with the political backdrop removed. If the American-flag shirts and hillbilly accents that remain are enough to give you Red State nightmares, never fear: The Met Room is as far from Tennessee as Oz was from Kansas.