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Trapped in the Closet Sing-a-Long

December 11, 2012

Trapped in the ClosetIn the 1990’s R&B singer R. Kelly swept the country by storm with his highly sexual and explicit songs about making love. With a smooth, enchanting voice just dripping with sensuality, Kelly quickly churned out hit after hit solidifying his own place in the R&B scene. Yet, in 2002 a video surfaced of an alleged Kelly having sexual relations with what appeared to be an underage girl. He was charged on child pornography charges, but after a five year case was found innocent on all accounts. Later, during an interview in which he after being asked did he like teenage girls, Kelly responded, “when you say teenage, how are we talking?”

Amidst the scandal, Kelly decided to remind audiences of his music by engaging in himself in his very on “hip-hopera,” a melodramatic musical soap opera called “Trapped in the Closet.” When the series of songs first surfaced, immediately becoming a hot topic in 2005, I admittedly became entranced. Never before had a story been so cheaply yet shamelessly told through song and I listened to the first four repeatedly, doubling over with laughter each time. I endured the convoluted story of two couples cheating on one another but when a midget and redneck house wife joined the cast I quickly lost interest and stopped following the project. Luckily for me a “Trapped in the Closet” sing-a-long” circulated its way to Atlanta and my friend and I found ourselves front and center in a room full of people watching the saga take place from beginning to a painstakingly hilarious end.

Say what you will about R. Kelly as a person, as a musician he is something to be revered. I’m not saying the man is a genius, but it takes a lot of guts and ingenuity to come up with 22 parts of a soap opera told through song— well maybe just a few blunts, some booze, and a large ego. Either way the hour and a half I spent in the sing-a-long was one of the greatest experiences of my life. For $11, the theater of excited patrons received a dart gun and two condoms to be used accordingly throughout the show. A gun in the air every time the musical’s lead, Sylvester, pulls out his—which is basically every six minutes, and condoms thrown at will. Yet, the spectacle of R. Kelly’s musical alone is worth the money; a crudely, yet at times impressively directed mini-series depicting the exploits of a group of cheating shameless people, what’s not to love?

Sylvester starts the story after waking from a night out with a women who he’s cheated on his wife with. When the woman’s husband returns home, Sylvester hides in the closet and contemplates his mistake while trying to not get caught. He is however, when the closet door is opened by the husband who is further revealed to be cheating on his wife with a man. The story continues as Sylvester calls home to discover that his own wife is cheating as well, sending them all into a spiral of mishaps where a total cast of about 16 characters are focused on, all of which are somehow intricately connected, mostly sexually. There’s preacher’s, pimps, midgets, thugs, and nosy neighbors with each song somehow ending on a perfect cliffhanger that makes you resist going to the bathroom because you just have to see what happens next.

trapped“Trapped in the Closet” is an impressive weaving of characters and stories, but more intriguing is that it’s told through Kelly’s conversational laissez-faire storytelling method. Onomatopoeia’s are sung to indicate police sirens, characters singingly comment on smells in the room, someone “letting one out” is narrated through song, an old man sings for his wife to “sit her old ass down” and characters often sing/talk over one another or cut each other off. Even their gestures are narrated through song, like when a character sits in a car bobbing his head to the music or if a character sniffs. It sounds stupid and honestly, it is, but with the accompanying silly and outlandish subtitles across the screen over zealously depicting the “meeeEEEEEs” and saying “axe” instead of “ask” as well as joyous audience singing along and shooting darts in the air, the atmosphere becomes pure joy combining elements of viewings of Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room, just better.

SEE IT. I pray to all things mighty it comes to your city so that you can.

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