Taylor Mac's American History in Feathers and Sky-High Heels

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Taylor Mac performs his '24 Decade History of Popular Music at the Curran and Bing Hall  (Photo:Teddy Wolff/Taylor Mac)

Sept. 15-27: Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music is perhaps the most ambitious of the shows we're previewing this week on the Do List. It's a solo piece (albeit with a small orchestra backing the songs), but Mac sings and lectures his way through the full span of American history, focusing on its hypocrisies,  betrayals and unfulfilled promises as portrayed in songs from "Yankee Doodle" to "Amazing Grace." This is what Mac calls a “radical faerie” take on the subject, meaning Mac mixes radical left-wing politics with a radical sense of humor, and what the New York Times' critic Wesley Morris calls a "a radical sense of beauty.”
 Mac towers over the stage in heels and sparkly costumes, topped by giant feathered headdresses à la Carmen Miranda. But beware, he plays theater games too, with lots of audience involvement. Mac is as happy to annoy you as thrill you with this musical, as long you leave the theater feeling something. For his four nights at the Curran Theater (Sept. 15–24), details here. For his abridged three-hour version of the show at Bing Concert Hall at Stanford, details here.