Of all the feel good and over the top musicals there are on Broadway and beyond, here or in any city, there are few that catch my attention at all. I’m no Broadway queen and doubt I ever will be but to convince me to actually sit through a whole musical is something in and of itself. Being only a partial stereotype, I tend to be the sickie who would instantly flock to any potential big time flop or small time train wreck. This explains why I decided to jump on the bandwagon and head to The New York Musical Theatre Festival’s week long run of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator: The Musical.
Expecting a total shit show, I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the set, props, costumes… and actors. And not once did I cringe in my seat for the whole thirty minutes due to a nicotine craving. The set itself is extremely simple yet effective in its continuous ability to be reused for each scene. (It’s simply some dark, dirty cage with a door in the middle.)
The story itself is simple and for those of you who haven’t seen the original film the synopsis goes as such: New medical student Herbert West is attending a new Physicians and Scientists college and is the campus nerd/creep who, instead of enjoying reading about chemistry and stuff, spends his time renting out the basement of a fellow student in the attempt to find a serum that restores life to the dead. After experiments go haywire, West shows no sign of quitting as corpses from the school morgue go missing along with some of the faculty.
The part of Herbert West was brilliantly played by Graham Skipper (love that name) who does it up in the most campy fashion creating a more comedic version of the original film’s character… plus the guy can actually sing. What first caught my eye upon entering the theater was the posted warnings scattered about and one of the ushers shouting how the first three rows were a “splash zone.” You know where this is going. Blood, guts, brains, eyeballs, vomit, you name it were on the menu for pretty much the front rows and beyond.
As a whole, Re-Animator: The Musical blended well stylized camp, perfectly fitting songs, a great colorful cast, and did more with as little set change or costumes as possible. To this theater patron, I left entirely satisfied and would certainly consider it one of the better chance “fuck it, I’ll see it” moments I’ve had in this city.
Re-Animator: The Musical plays at PTC Performance Space until July 22nd as part of the NY Musical Theatre Festival. http://www.nymf.org/module-ShowManager-display-sid-1992.html