On the Bright Side: No shushing here: Local librarian to perform in NYC rock opera

ContributedThe cast and crew of 'Bad Ass Beauty: A Rock Opera' clockwise from top left: Peter Douskalis, Laura MacLean, LaQuinta Prince, Pam West-Finkle, Bekka Lindstrom, Jon Berger, Jeff Ganz, Kristina Varshavskaya, Stefanie Seskin, Jameelah Leaundra and Lauren Blue.

A local librarian and music teacher will be taking a larger stage this week in a New York City off-Broadway production.

Pam West-Finkle will performing in the debut of “Bad Ass Beauty: The Rock Opera” featured in the New York Musical Festival on Thursday.

West-Finkle described the show as a growling glam rock show that is part “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” part “Spinal Tap.” It follows Aralyn Ford, a woman who dreams of being a rock star but must reckon with her childhood trauma and the exploitation of women at the hands of the music industry. She does so through heavy rock music and confronting her fragmented personality, which is represented as characters in the cast. Her two main personas are “Bad Ass” and “Beauty,” hence the title.

The show is fronted by the woman who inspired the story: LaQuinta Prince. Stefanie Seskin wrote the script and is also one of the performers. The music and lyrics, the architecture of the opera, were written by Prince.

West-Finkle is the publicist as well as one of two “Calliope Singers” who provides back up vocals and harmonies throughout the show. West-Finkle said she also plays piano in a few songs.

She has been a professional musician for more than 30 years but this show is a world away from her life in South Kortright. She left New York City and the music industry after the 9/11 attacks to seek out something more meaningful and devoted her life to community music, she said. Now she is the director of the Andes Library and teaches music classes in Oneonta.

As the founder of the Community Arts & Music Network, she's known as “Miss Pam” to children and parents in the area.

“It's fun because I've been doing so much of the light and G-rated stuff up in the Catskills and when I lived in New York City I was a rock singer,” she said.

She knows Seskin from her time in New York City, where they were roommates, West-Finkle said.

In Ancient Greek myth, Calliope is the muse presiding over eloquence and epic poetry. In the show, the two are responsible for harmonies and back up singing.

Performing in an off-Broadway production has been a dream of hers. “This is definitely on my bucket list,” she told The Daily Star.

The festival stipulates that the groups get one month of rehearsal time, and West-Finkle said the timeline has been “intense” but she's enjoying it.

There will be one show at 5 p.m. Thursday at The Acorn Theater at 410 W. 42nd St.

When the dust settles, West-Finkle will perform at the B-Side Ballroom in Oneonta on Wednesday, July 25.

  Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at (607) 441-7218 or wbashaw@thedailystar.com . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .


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