Thursday, August 11, 2011

Horror hits the stage

My hometown of Payson, Utah, has chosen "Jekyll and Hyde" for the annual community theater production. Sadly, I won't be there to see it because this is my favorite musical.

"Jekyll and Hyde" is but one of a number of horror musicals. There is a version out there starring David Hasselhoff in the title role. I can't bring myself to watch it, though. In fact, I had to search for a non-Hoff clip to lead off this post. I found one. Watch it and imagine seeing this on stage. The lead in every musical must be strong to be successful, but having to flip voices and appearances as the lead in "Jekyll and Hyde" must is amazing. I don't think I could do it. (Mostly because I don't sing well.)

The story of a scientist hoping to filter out evil is often overshadowed by a more famous horror musical.

The story of the Phantom of the Opera has been adapted a number of times. I'm partial to Lon Chaney's silent film version and Claude Rains take from 1943. But no matter what, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical spectacular will always dominate this conversation.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that "The Phantom of the Opera" is as horrifying as it could be. (There are some who thought Gerard Butler's voice in the 2004 film was horrific, but I like the guy, so back off.) I don't think Sir Andrew was trying to scare anyone. There are some scary moments in the musical, though.

When the Phantom comes out all "Masque of the Red Death" we remember that he's an evil bastard, not just some lovestruck opera hack. The Phantom is a badass, and should be a rockstar, not a wuss.

He should be a badass, like in Brain De Palma's "Phantom of the Paradise." But since that was a film only, we're skipping it. For the record, I love that movie.

There have been some musicals based on horror movies. There's a "Young Frankenstein" musical and, of course, "Evil Dead: the Musical." There is history's "worst musical ever" in the form of "Carrie." Then there are those that started on the stage before making their celluloid debuts.

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has a life of its own. If you've never had the pleasure of a midnight showing of Rocky Horror, you are missing out on one of those thousand things to do before you die. It's just something you have to try once. If you don't like it, don't do it again. If you do like it, well, it's pretty easy to make it an annual event. The sequel, "Shock Treatment," has its fans but never gained the same wide audience as its progenitor.

Following in the dance steps of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is "Repo! The Genetic Opera."

Sadly, I can't show you any clips. They all seem to have embedding disabled. This isn't entirely a bad thing. It might force you to track down this futuristic offering. The film version stars Anthony Stewart Head, Alexa Vega and Sarah Brightman (remember her from the original "Phantom of the Opera" cast?) Paris Hilton is in it, too, but don't let that discourage you. Bill Moseley, famous for playing Chop-top in the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" and Otis Driftwood in Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" is in it, too.

And for those of you who love you some (Anthony Stewart) Head, I have not forgotten that he has sung on film before.

That's from "Once More with Feeling..." You know, the musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Good stuff.

And let's not forget (like I did in the first draft) "Sweeney Todd." The Stephen Sondheim musical first hit the stage in 1979 and gained a new following when Tim Burton and Johnny Depp brought it to the cinema in 2007.

Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are amazing as the demon barber and Mrs. Lovett, pie maker supreme. Like most Burton films, black and white hues dominate the visuals but there is just enough red for the average gorehound to get a kick out of it. It's a date movie for the demented.

Did I miss one? What is your favorite horror musical?

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