Fruit Fly, playing Sun 10/18 and Mon, 10/19 at Dole Cannery, uses its songs as pure whimsy, and the playfulness comes through from the opening credits in H.P. Mendoza’s opening score. This is the second musical for the screenwriter, who starred in 2006’s Colma: The Musical, and like that film, Casio keyboards ought to be sending him thank you letters come Christmas time. Following the adventures of Bethesda (L.A. Renigen, who also starred in Colma), a Filipina girl working through abandonment issues through performance art, the musical numbers begin as soon as she appears on screen, in a loving tribute to San Francisco’s public transit system. Moving into a communal house filled with various misfits, Mendoza has the characters tell their stories through songs, from a ballad toward teen angst (“Speechless”), to the utterly filthy duet “We Have So Much In Common.” Bethesda makes friends, finds lovers, searches out her missing mother and comes to a realization that in her short time in the city, her community has already outed her as a Fruit Fly (a more PC-friendly term for “f*g hag,” which is also debated and discussed through song).
All told, Fruit Fly has 19 musical numbers, ranging from punk to electro dance. The songs all display a grand helping of wit, though Mendoza’s predilection toward perversion can grow a bit wearisome. The film won this year’s Audience Award at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and for those who can handle subject matter that makes no apologies, it’s obvious why it was so well-received, even by those who usually avoid musicals.
(ed: “Predilection toward perversion”? Dude…it’s a song about sex between two guys. In light of Proposition 8, a journalist really ought to watch his words…)