Tuesday 21 August 2012

Re-Animator The Musical - Review

George Square Theatre, Edinburgh


Music and lyrics by Mark Nutter

Adapted from the stories by H.P. Lovecraft

Book by Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon & William J. Norris

Based on the film H.P. Lovecrafts Re-Animator

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Most shows require the suspension of disbelief, Re-Animator The Musical demands that even your suspended disbelief be strung up as high as you can muster. This is a musical that is as deliciously ( or should that be disgustingly ) ridiculous, as it is professionally and skilfully delivered.

Stuart Gordon has taken his 1980s B-movie feature "H.P. Lovecrafts Re-Animator" and re-animated it for the stage. We meet students Dan Cain and Herbert West ( Chris L. McKenna and Graham Skipper respectively )  as they are half way through their medical training, where Cain and the Dean's daughter Megan ( Rachel Avery )are lovers. Critical to the plot is West's morbid quest to further his research into bringing the dead back to life using a fluorescent green re-animation potion that he injects into corpses and the efforts of rival teacher,  Dr Hill to thwart his developments. To say anymore would spoil and for the same reason Producer Dean Schramm has not released a list of musical numbers.

All the cast are strong. Skipper in geeky glasses and black suit sings strongly as he embodies a nerd with a ghoulish secret. McKenna ably plays a solid college guy who finds his life overtaken by circumstances as the plot unfolds. Avery's Megan is straight out of the Janet mould from Rocky Horror. She looks a picture, and her acting and vocal work impress. An extra treat in the cast is George Wendt, Norm from TV's Cheers, who delivers a performance to relish as the Dean, whilst Jesse Merlin's Hill is the archetypal bad guy, sung and performed with complete plausibility. Hill's demise in the show is as gruesome as it is hilarious. Also worthy of mention is Marlon Grace whose performance as Mace, a morgue guard with a beautiful baritone voice, is a scream.

Eli Roth has commented that in a good horror movie, the sound effects are as important as the visuals. This show does not disappoint. The sounds of the ( clearly and obviously dummy ) hypodermic injections, and brain sawing add to the riotous fun of the show.

Oh, and the first three rows of the audience are provided with ponchos to shield them from the showers of fake bodily fluids that frequently spatter them from the stage.

Schramm opened the show in Los Angeles where it ran successfully before an off-Broadway run in New York. He has brought the USA original cast to Edinburgh launch the show in Europe. The show deserves a wider UK audience and would be an innovative show to occupy an off-West End stage for a few weeks.

An audience member was overheard saying " this show's got zombies and music. What's not to like?" He was not wrong.

Runs until August 27th

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