Life of horror from the other side

`Silver Scream' satire is more silly than scary

TheaterReview

October 24, 2002|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

There's plenty of precedent for horror musicals, from Little Shop of Horrors to The Phantom of the Opera. The latest, Dance of the Vampires, starring Michael Crawford, opens on Broadway next month, and there's a musical version of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? currently playing in Houston.

Each of these shows hews to - and often spoofs - a single source or plot. But one is not enough for local librettist JimmyO, whose musical comedy Silver Scream does its own satirical hatchet job on more horror flicks than there are zombies in Night of the Living Dead.

The kitschy musical, intended as a more-funny-than-fearsome Halloween attraction at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, strives to be little more than silly, and it achieves that goal.

It does have a thin central plot. Two friends, George (Jeff Tremper) and Tobe (Jason Yaffee), are outraged that their favorite old movie palace is about to be demolished. It turns out they're not alone. Equally distraught are the characters in George and Tobe's beloved horror movies, who manage to whisk the young men, along with Tobe's sister (Coby Kay Callahan) and the evil theater owner (Brad Grochowski), through the movie screen and into the celluloid world of horror films.

The plot is primarily an excuse to string together a bunch of rather lame takeoffs on everything from Dracula and Bride of Frankenstein to The Exorcist and some sort of bikini-beach-slasher subgenre with which I am gratefully unfamiliar.

Under the co-direction of Ronald Burr and Dahlia Kaminsky, Tremper and Yaffee do a good imitation of numbskulls of the Wayne and Garth, Dumb & Dumber variety. Several supporting performances, however, suffer from self-consciousness.

The show is also hampered by a number of elements that don't make sense. The world on the other side of the movie screen is supposed to be black and white, but bits of color (especially blood red) keep popping up. Our heroes - and I use that term loosely - never seem to make it back to the other side of the screen. And there's no need for the gratuitous anti-Semitic remark tossed out in a scene involving money.

Composer James M. Taylor (no, not that James Taylor) has created a score that, in its best moments, is derivative of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Frank Wildhorn, logical choices since they are the composers of Phantom and Jekyll & Hyde respectively. The cast includes a couple of adept vocalists, particularly Felicia Curry, who for some unexplained reason is cast in the male role of Count Dracula.

The script is peppered with double entendres and sexual suggestion, so the show isn't one for the kiddies. While it won't leave you screaming with laughter, at least it won't leave you screaming with fright - though I'm not sure that's a good thing for a Halloween show.

Show times at the Spotlighters, 817 St. Paul St., are 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Oct. 31, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 2. Tickets are $15. Call 410-752-1225.

TV show for Winokur

In the musical Hairspray, the lead character of Tracy Turnblad longs to be on TV. Now in one of those life-imitates-art situations, Marissa Jaret Winokur, the actress portraying Tracy on Broadway, is getting her own TV show.

Touchstone Television and ABC will develop the show for Winokur, whose involvement will begin after she completes her duties on Hairspray.

Winokur is no stranger to television. Her credits include recurring roles as Brandy's roommate on Moesha and as a grocery store employee on Dharma & Greg, as well as guest appearances on Boston Public, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Felicity and Just Shoot Me.

Sondheim concert

Although the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration wrapped up in Washington last month, the event was further celebrated in New York Monday with a concert at Lincoln Center. Various cast members from all six productions were joined by Barbara Cook, whose own Sondheim concert was part of the summer festivities.

A 33-piece orchestra accompanied the singers, who reprised nearly three dozen Sondheim songs for a sold-out crowd. Ken Mandelbaum, writing for Web site Broadway.com, described the event as "a generous, satisfying sampler," as well as "a fitting conclusion to an ambitious project, and a worthy salute to an astonishing talent."

The Washington Post's Peter Marks, while noting some sound system glitches and flubbed lyrics, wrote: "Even so, the evening proved to be a terrific showcase, and not merely for the Kennedy Center. Though a few old hands were cast in major roles, the celebration had so clearly tilted in favor of budding performers that the festival could have been subtitled `Sondheim: The Next Generation.' "

Speaking of Kennedy Center celebrations, the New York Post has reported that the center will follow its Sondheim success with a festival of plays by Tennessee Williams. A spokeswoman for the Kennedy Center said that though nothing has been confirmed, the center is seriously considering a Williams retrospective, which would probably take place in 2004.

Auditions

Phoenix Festival Theater of Harford Community College will hold auditions for its production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the college's Chesapeake Center Dining Rooms. Roles are available for ages 6-60. Applicants should be prepared to read from the script; no monologues are necessary. For more information, call 410-836-4217. Lorenzo's Timonium Dinner Theatre. Auditions for a production of Tony N' Tina's Wedding will be held 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday at the theater, 9603 Deereco Road, Timonium. All parts are open and paid. Auditions will consist of improvisation. The show runs Dec. 30 through March 23, with some weekday matiness. Call 410-560-1113.

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