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Beyond “Hair” and “Rent”: Musical theater has its Arcade Fire moment

The last sound the audience hears before the lights go down to kick off Act 1 of the Joe Iconis musical "The Black Suits" are the strains of the Hold Steady’s “Stuck Between Stations,” the opening track off the group’s third album, "Boys and Girls in America." It might, initially, seem a strange choice for a small-scale musical, the sort that’s playing smaller houses while it works out exactly what it wants to be when it grows up. Musical theater, after all, isn’t a place for the rough-and-tumble, if literary, lyrics of the Hold Steady, and it’s certainly not a place for the sorts of throwback power chords the group specializes in. When rock music makes its way to Broadway, it’s usually been safely anesthetized and pulled back. It’s one of the reasons the American theater increasingly seems like a niche scene, only able to engage with popular musical forms as a sort of novelty act.

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