If you haven’t heard yet, the Re-Animator The Musical is back in town for a limited time only! After rocking Los Angeles’s socks off last year, this B-movie comedy-horror-musical is back on stage at the Hayworth Theatre for a short ten-week run before it heads off to the Big Apple, then to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after that.
I went down there for a peek last weekend during previews and, let me tell you, you don’t have to be a fan of the B-movie horror film genre to have a rollicking good time. Re-animator the Musical is the on-stage version of the 1985 cult classic movie where almost- off-the-rocker med student Herbert West (played by Graham Skipper) plays God by injecting the newly dead with a green glowing substance to bring them back to life. Of course, not everything goes as planned. What the audience gets is an hour or so ride down the rabbit hole of horror, complete with tons of guts and gore, spraying down the first three rows (officially designated “splatter zones.”)
The musical was a real life pool party brought indoors, if you ask me. Despite being armed with a poncho, I found myself on edge wondering if the headless zombie in front of me would spray red dye to high heavens or will it let the audience be… for now. I dreaded being sprayed, but looked forward to it too. Loopy, huh? But, I bet everyone beside me fel the same.
Alongside that anticipation, I was entertained by the literal song and dance in front of my eyes. What could easily have been a serious, on-edge storyline ala Frankenstein became a rousing romp around the surreal alternate universe created by director-writer Stuart Gordon and writers Dennis Paoli and William J. Norris with music by Mark Nutter.
Skipper had West’s bulging-eyed madness down pat. I couldn’t help but remark how closely he resembled a stockier Daniel Radcliffe and wondered, “What havoc would Harry Potter have wreaked if he’d be similarly crazy?” Dan Cain (Chris L. McKenna) and Megan Halsey (Rachel Avery) were the perfect love-smitten couple that instantly had you cheering for their welfare. I was impressed by the set of lungs on the slim Avery. Though there were a few notes where I saw the strain, she admirably raged against Dan’s stupidity at helping an obviously deranged West. The scene stealer was undoubtedly Dr. Hill (Jesse Merlin). Merlin was the perfect comic villain. His reverberating operatic voice was dastardly and the audience easily believes he would do anything to have his way with pretty Dean Halsey’s daughter. We couldn’t help but laugh at his delusion every time he makes a DOM move on Avery.
Like any self-respecting B-movie rendition, Re-Animator doesn’t lack for any guts and gore. There’s even a wonderful beheading choreographed by Cynthia Carle toward the end. The body switch is done so smoothly and the blood spray timed perfectly that all the audience can do is gasp at the audacity, then laugh because we all totally fell for the theatrics.
Re-animator the Musical is a welcome respite from the drama-filled Walking Dead plot lines of the world. For an hour or so, my only worries were how crazy can this show can get and when should I hide under my poncho. If you similarly need some lighthearted zombie fun, here’s the show to check out. In fact, here’s a discount code to get you started!