If Electric Fetus manager Bob Fuchs made a Top 5 list of moments at the iconic record store celebrating its 50th anniversary, it might include Prince, the Replacements or Hüsker Dü. A stage musical probably wouldn’t make the cut.
Yet, starting after the store closes Friday night, the Fetus will host the pop-rock musical “High Fidelity,” based on the Nick Hornsby novel and the 2000 John Cusack-Jack Black film about a commitment-phobic record seller with a penchant for best-of lists.
“Someone just reached out to our owner, out of the blue, and we were like, ‘Wow, that’s genius,’ ” said Fuchs.
That someone would be the leader of Minneapolis Musical Theatre.
“My initial idea was to reach out to a record store to get some records for set decorations,” said artistic director Christian Unser. But theater officials started dreaming bigger: How neat would it be to have this show about a quirky record-shop owner set in a record shop?
“We’ve done a whole lot of live music performances but never a theater show that I can remember,” said Fuchs, who in 20 years as store manager has seen plenty of characters like those in the show. “The setting, the story, ‘High Fidelity’ at the Electric Fetus — how could we not do this?”
This will be the regional premiere of the musical, which had a brief Broadway run in 2006. It was composed by Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”), with lyrics by Amanda Green and a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”).
Traditionally a two-act, “High Fidelity” will be done without an intermission at the Fetus.
That’s hardly the only accommodation. The store, which doesn’t have concessions or the public bathrooms customary at regular theaters, has a small stage where bands ordinarily play. That will be used for the four-piece backing band.
“Our set is the store itself — we didn’t build anything,” said director Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha, a huge fan of the Fetus.
The staging will take place mostly in the aisles. Risers and crates will be used to elevate the actors. But theater officials really don’t know how the show will play until they get an audience.
“We don’t know where people will plant themselves, so we’re planning for anything to happen,” said Pillatzki-Warzeha. “The whole thing is so cool.”
Both performers and audiences will move a bit.
“There’s a scene where a character comes out and sits on a stool and sings,” said Unser. “We bring the crowd to the band platform to be the audience. And we move them down the aisles as the show continues.”
Complicating matters, the area around the Fetus is a construction zone as work wraps up on the Franklin Avenue bridge over I-35W. But that shouldn’t be much of a hindrance for the expected audience of 75 to 100 people per night, Fuchs said.
“The roads are definitely crazy — I can see the bucket from the backhoe that’s about 10 feet away now,” he said. “But the roads are open now and our parking lot can accommodate 60 to 70.”
Besides, he added, the Fetus just handled more than 1,000 people for its multiday Prince celebration.
Has anyone else attempted this concept? “Not that we’re aware of and we did do internet research around it,” said Unser.
Pillatzki-Warzeha said that she has been surprised by how smoothly things have gone, even with very limited rehearsal time in the venue — just four hours, after the store closed Sunday.
“We give the space a godlike deference,” she said. “And every fear we’ve had about is this going to work, it absolutely works. It feels right, so great.”