The title, Scary Musical: The Musical must not be distracting, as the latest debut from the Hollywood theatre scene is a sight to behold. Playing at the NoHo Arts Center in the North Hollywood Arts District of Los Angeles, CA, Scary Musical provides a night full of hilarious horror film parodies accompanied by top-notch musical theatre vocals and choreography.
The production’s storyline focuses on a select group of students from Vera Miles High School in the quiet little town of Hidden Secrets, USA who are putting on their very own production of Scary Musical. An unexpected double murder has taken the school’s leading lady, Drew Campbell, and her understudy out of play, thus begins the competition for the actress’s replacement in the show. A bright and bubbly new girl named Jamie Lee Leigh suddenly arrives in town and has a striking resemblance to the lead actress that just so happened to be murdered the day before her arrival. Audiences follow Jamie and her newfound friends Norman, Carrie, Freddy and Jason, an escaped mental patient and a colorful cast of characters on a horrifically hilarious journey.
The show takes inspirations from classic Hollywood horror clichés and places them within a slasher movie plot combined with a pop/rock music score and modern pop-culture humor that creates an unexpectedly enjoyable night in the theatre. Homage to some of the most famous Hollywood horrors like Carrie, Psycho, and Nightmare On Elm Street are paid. The show can very easily fall into a campy and tacky schtick act, as many horrors and parodies do, but due to each actor’s level of commitment to the insane antics they are displaying on stage, the show remains tasteful, enjoyable, and downright hilarious even to those unfamiliar with the horror genre.
Jane Papageorge carries the production as Jamie Lee Leigh with her strong musical theatre vocals and displays comedic timing and talent comparable to SNL’s Amy Poehler. Papageorge’s given blocking and material was undoubtedly seen on paper as over-the-top, but the actress manages to push her performance right up to the edge without actually going over the top, leaving audiences no choice but to fall in love with the magnificently funny and likable character she has created.
Jamie Lee’s friends include Keir Kirkegaard as Jason, Leigh Golden as Carrie, August Emerson as Norman and Frank Authello Andrus, Jr. as Freddy. Although each actor gave a strong performance in their own light, Emerson as Norman is the stand-out performer in this particular group of supporting players. Taking on the Norman Bates model, Emerson provides flawless comedic timing with the dark humor that comes along with his character. Emerson’s shining moment comes in his solo ballad, “Mother”, which reveals a great amount of sincere and heartfelt vulnerability, grounding the entire production in reality for a short moment, making the character of Norman very relatable.
Now, the best is always saved for last and there is no exception to that rule in this review. The performer who absolutely steals the show is that of Hollywood veteran Candi Milo who plays the smart-mouthed, no-nonsense reporter Leeza Courtney Fox. Milo’s portrayal of this whacked-out old broad is nothing short of hysterical. With comedic timing that is absolutely en pointe, one-liners that kill and an array of costumes slightly resembling upholstery, the character of Leeza Courtney Fox is one that audiences will not soon forget. Milo has been around the Hollywood block quite a bit with an impressive résumé ranging from stage to TV to voice acting (including the voice of Dexter in the famous cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory) and her time in Scary Musical is one she will undoubtably cherish.
In the end of the Hollywood debut of Scary Musical: The Musical, the mystery of which crazy character committed the numerous killings that happen throughout the story is up to the audience. The production makes clever use of Twitter to tally the votes of who the audience believes to be the murderer and the show changes on a nightly basis depending on which character receives the most amount of tweets. Scary Musical: The Musical runs Thursdays through Sundays until November 9 at the NoHo Arts Center in Los Angeles.
Review By Cody Collier