Wednesday, October 26, 2022


Jill Sobule's terrific autobiographical rock-concert musical, F*ck7thGrade, traces her life from tomboy riding a Raleigh Blue Chopper, to junior high outcast, to accidental performer in a nightclub in Spain, to closeted Tonight Show guest, to--right now--proud queer woman in a proud queer show at the fabulous Wild Project. 

It's a delightful trip, despite some dips into sadness and even despair. In many ways, Sobule's life pivoted around her hit "I Kissed a Girl." It was the nineties, and she succumbed to pressure to treat it as a "novelty song" rather than the lesbian anthem it is. In a way, she broke her own heart by not standing up for herself. 

But she also grew up, and embraced herself and her music. She is really funny (the excellent book is by Liza Birkenmeier, but the voice is sheer Sobule), and her songs are wonderful musical short stories. Most importantly, the show takes place in the sweet spot where the specifics of an artist's particular story expand into universality. Really, how many people enjoyed 7th grade? (If you did, by the way, you still would probably like the show. But you won't be in the majority in the audience.)

The show could use more of a transition between Sobule singing "I sold my soul, and nothing happened" and her response to Katy Perry's different "I Kissed a Girl." All we are told is that years passed, and that Sobule found herself feeling that, although she had somewhat disowned the song, she was the "I Kissed a Girl" girl! Also, F*ck7thGrade ends three times, and the last song is one song too many. (That last song shouldn't be played for anyone under 50, or even 60, with its list of potential--and realistic--ways the world may go to hell; I saw the show with a 28-year-old, and that's way too young to be told that it's okay if everything comes to an end because you've had a "good, good life.") 

Now that I've finished the "I'm a reviewer" part of the review, I need to add the "I'm a lesbian of Sobule's generation who has had her CDs for years" part of the review. For me, much of F*ck7thGrade felt like catching up with an old friend. When "I Kissed a Girl" came out, my friends and I were thrilled. I managed to tape the music video (on BetaMax!) from TV, and that tape was passed around to friend to friend to friend. We assumed that the enforced heterosexuality of the ending of the video (Sobule and the woman she kissed are shown pregnant by their loser men) was not Sobule's choice, and we had no doubt that Sobule was one of us. It's sad to hear how much pain the whole thing caused Sobule, because that song and that video were major gifts to the rest of us. Honestly, in 1995 the song felt miraculous. (I dealt with that awful, stupid, tagged-on ending by simply pressing "stop" before it came on.)

Even now, in 2022, movie, TV, and theatre characters that I can truly identify with are rare. Watching F*ck7thGrade gave me that unusual, wonderful sense of being seen, of being. That's a real gift.

The excellent back-up band/supporting cast includes Nina Camp (guitar, back-up vocals, "the sexy characters"), Kristen Ellis-Henderson (drums, Jill's junior high nemesis, other characters), and Julie Wolf (keyboards, various characters).   

The show runs through November 8. You can get tickets here. I hope you do.

Wendy Caster

1 comment:

TeacherLady said...

The run is extended through November 19th. :)