Making a movie can be a whiskey business.
A Crown Heights performance artist has distilled her struggles with alcoholism and film-making into a live musical comedy. The now-sober thespian says that “An Alcoholic Movie Musical,” opening at the Bushwick Starr on Oct. 7, is about the challenge of making art imitate life.
“I’m trying to wrangle with: How do you translate a life experience into a fictionalized version?” said Cynthia Hopkins, who plays herself in the show. “The Alcoholic Movie Musical” traces her liquor-drenched descent into addiction, and her attempt to turn that slide into a musical film. Her show includes a few film clips, but the real final product, said Hopkins, is the stage production itself.
“We’re telling the story about trying to figure out how to make this thing, and by doing so we are making a version of it with the audience there,” she said.
Hopkins’ video director husband joins her on stage for an operatic duet about alcoholism, in a comedic homage to R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet.” But Hopkins makes no promises that her custom blend of humor and somber subject matter will please every palate.
“Comedy is really difficult,” said Hopkins. “When I’m making something, all I can do is make it funny for me, and that’s no guarantee that it will be funny for anyone else.”
She hopes the play will be transformative for viewers who have battled the bottle themselves, and will also straighten out some misconceptions about addiction. Tackling the sensitive and wide-reaching problem of alcoholism is a challenge worthy of art, she says.
“It’s a tricky subject, because anybody who is affected by it is going to have an opinion about what I should and should not be saying,” she said. “But I like tricky subjects.”
After the show’s comedic highs and tragic lows, the real punch line comes after the curtain closes. The Starr will give out drink tickets so audience members can make a boozy stop at local tavern Heavy Woods — an ironic outing that Hopkins might join.
“They do serve sodas at bars,” she said.
“The Alcoholic Movie Musical” at the Bushwick Starr (207 Starr St. between Wyckoff and Irving avenues, (917) 623–9669, www.thebu