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Esparza, Murney To Star In Dead Kennedys Musical


Raul Esparza will star as punk rock icon and political activist Jello Biafra in the Broadway bound California Über Alles: The Dead Kennedys Musical. Julia Murney is set to co-star as legendary groupie and sculpture artist Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was known for casting molds of rock stars' penises, including Biafra's. With a book by Jello Biafra himself, lead singer and songwriter for 1980's underground band The Dead Kennedys, the score will include over 20 of their classics like "Holiday in Cambodia," "Kill The Poor," "Too Drunk to Fuck," "Bleed For Me," "Nazi Punks, Fuck Off!" and, of course, "California Über Alles."

Des McAnuff will direct the musical's world premiere engagement at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse, scheduled to open in late 2007 with an eye toward opening on Broadway in the spring of '08.

"I've never been a fan of the jukebox musicals," says Biafra, who was born Eric Reed Boucher but changed his name as a commentary on the mass starvation in underdeveloped countries in a world where nutritionally poor foods are mass-produced. "I much prefer musicals where the songs are written specifically for the characters and situations, but after seeing Jersey Boys I came to realize how a well-crafted play can use pre-existing pop songs to legitimately propel the story. So I sought out that show's director, Des McAnuff, with the idea of bringing the music of The Dead Kennedys where it belongs... on the Broadway stage."

Aside from his accomplishments as a musician, the musical will also cover Biafra's career in the political arena. After an unsuccessful run for the mayorship of San Francisco in 1979, where his platform proposed squatters' rights to occupy abandoned buildings and requiring police officers to retain their jobs by being elected by the residents of the neighborhoods they patrol, Biafra and The Dead Kennedys headlined the 1983 Rock Against Reagan Festival. A long-time activist against censorship, Biafra stood trial in Los Angeles on obscenity charges in 1986; a case declared a mistrial when the jury was deadlocked. He was a serious contender for the Green Party's presidential nomination in 2000, but lost to Ralph Nadar despite giving a well-received address at the party's convention.

Cynthia Plaster Caster, who was born Cynthia Albritton but had her name legally changed, first gained fame in the rock music world in the late '60's by inviting musicians to model for her as she made plaster castings of their erect penises. An exhibition of her work in 2000 at New York's Threadwaxing Space included castings from the likes of Jello Biafra, Jimi Hendrix, Zal Yanovsky, Anthony Newly, conservative radio talk show host Bob Grant and Ivan Karamazov of The Flying Karamazov Brothers.

"Cynthia Plaster Caster is still the ultimate groupie," says Biafra. "Her role in the musical will be that of a narrator and commentator, like Che Guevara in Evita."

"I'm very excited to be playing such an important cultural icon as Jello Biafra and helping to bring the music of The Dead Kennedys to Broadway," says Raul Esparza, who is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Company. "To tell the truth, I'm getting sick of singing all this Stephen Sondheim junk and it would be nice to do material with some substance for a change."

Says Julia Murney from her dressing room at the Gershwin Theatre where she's currently appearing as Elphaba in Wicked, "I have no idea who this Biafra guy is but I'll do anything where I don't have to put this green gunk on my face every day. My pores are staging an uprising." wishes its readers a happy April Fools Day.

Photo of Raul Esparza by Linda Lenzi

Photo of Julia Murney by Ben Strothmann

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