Seven minutes before his 7 p.m. curtain on Friday night, performer Michael Burgos was on the first floor of Writers & Books, nervously milling around the long line that had formed outside the stairway to the second floor theater. A house manager cleared her throat. “Excuse me! We have an announcement,” she said. Burgos, dressed in a somber black suit that serves as his costume, stepped forward. “I’ve performed this show more than 200 times,” he said. “I’ve never encountered a situation like tonight’s.”
Burgos explained he’d hired a local stage technician when he arrived in town, his usual move when touring. But Bob, the tech - who had spent three hours rehearsing with Burgos on Thursday - never showed up in time for Friday’s show. (The first of three Burgos will perform during Rochester Fringe Festival.) There were a few options: cancel the show, or ask the audience to wait while Burgos taught the venue manager, Misty, how to run basic tech for his tech-heavy show. The audience was strongly in favor of waiting (several had seen the show in years past), and then Burgos had an idea: would
everyone like to come upstairs and watch the dry tech run? (Spoiler: they would.)
The one-man show, which usually runs 60 minutes, revolves around a eulogy that, at first, goes poorly, and then, goes rogue. Burgos plays six characters: singing, dancing, interacting with the audience and miming his way through the narrative of a most bizarre funeral. His penchant for characterization and knack for physical comedy is uncanny; and even without tech, Burgos delivered a captivating performance.
“The Eulogy” is a show that consistently receives high praise - ‘Best of’ awards at Fringe festivals around the world, and sold-out runs here in Rochester in 2016 and 2017. During what Burgos described as his “living nightmare” - a show without tech - on Friday, it wasn’t hard to see why. At his core, Burgos is a true performer, and true performers know ‘the show must go on.’ Even if it is Friday the 13th, and the tech guy doesn’t show. Perhaps, especially then.
“The Eulogy” will be performed again on Saturday, September 14 and Wednesday, September 18 at Writers & Books. Sold out for both dates. $16. Appropriate for 13 and over.