About 400 years ago, William Shakespeare wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy about a fat, drunk jackass named Falstaff. About 20 years ago, a bluegrass band called the Red Clay Ramblers wrote Lone Star Love, a musical adaptation of The Merry Wives of Windsor. About four weeks ago, a pre-Broadway production of Lone Star Love, starring minor celebrity Randy Quaid as the fat jackass, opened at the 5th Avenue Theatre, which has become known for hosting pre-Broadway premieres like Hairspray and The Wedding Singer.

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Then, about a week ago, something went wrong. The New York producers canceled the Broadway run of Lone Star Love but wouldn't say why. Quaid abandoned the production a week early and let his understudy take over. There were rumors of fights and videos of the show defiantly posted on YouTube, against union and theater regulations. (Nobody's saying who shot the videos, but one of them begins in Quaid's dressing room.) Evi Quaid, Randy's wife/manager, was allegedly waging war with the NY producers over "creative control," which included interpretations of the Falstaff character and the size of his codpiece.

The rumor is that another actor who agreed to play Falstaff backed out at the last minute. In their desperation to sign a star, the producers wrote an unusual degree of creative control into Quaid's contract and the big man started getting ideas.

Evi told the New York Post: "Quite frankly, we did want to take the show in a more surreal direction... I don't understand why [the producers] would object to what we've done when audiences and critics are clearly responding to it."

Um, they've responded all right. They've agreed that it's "dull" (the P–I), "too much" (the Times), "insipid" (The Stranger), and "a lost cause" (the Weekly). So what gives, Evi? Why are the producers mad, the critics dismissive, and the cast and crew gossiping? Again from the Post: "Having a competent person on this show is very disturbing to them, I guess." She sounds like a peach.

Evi and Randy Quaid are apparently all lawyered up and there's talk of legal action in several directions. It sounds of a piece—Quaid once tried to sue Brokeback Mountain for $10 million, saying he was tricked into taking a lower paycheck than he deserved.

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Audience members at the closing performance report that 5th Avenue artistic director David Armstrong gave a ballsy curtain speech to the effect: Usually in the preshow process we learn about changes that need to be made to the script, score, and staging. This time we learned that we needed a different star. The next day, a Slog commentor wrote: "I work in the Skinner Building and I sometimes see David Armstrong bopping in and out. This morning he seemed just a little more jaunty than usual." recommended

brendan@thestranger.com