BWW Review: VAMPIRE BURT'S SERENADE - More A Welcomed Diversion Than Finished Theatrical Production
VAMPIRE BURT'S SERENADE/written & directed by Ken Roht/digital release available on Amazon Pay and Amazon Prime May 8, 2020, and other outlets shortly after.
In these days of social distancing, producer Kenneth Hughes has captured footage of playwright Ken Roht's VAMPIRE BURT'S SERENADE (shot at the Bootleg Theater, a Los Angeles theatre and rock club); and edited and re-formatted for your virtual theatrical experience. In the style of the low-budget cult films made famous by Roger Corman, VAMPIRE BURT has something for everyone: cheesy, high camp dialogue, bits of voluptuous strippers stripping, groan-inducing gore, gallons of fake blood spurting - all amidst an ambitious set of thirty original songs by Roht and Paul Goldowitz (individually and in tandem).
The basic plot of VAMPIRE has Vampire Burt (a sulking Kevin Scott Richardson of Backstreet Boys fame) prowling the Bootleg Theater and Candyland (a combo photographer's studio/drug den) for his replenishing of human blood and wildly named narcotics. Vampire Burt heads all vampires in his area (as he repeatedly declares) as they all powerlessly heed his bidding.
An opportune meeting at the Bootleg with his friend Todd (charmingly played by Brandon Heitkamp) turns inopportune for Todd as Vampire Burt impulsively drinks his blood, turning Todd into a fellow vampire, a fellow bisexual vampire. After Todd's girlfriend Connie (a very committed Diva Zappa) sizzlingly performs her strip number to "Sex Toys" on the Bootleg stage, she horrifyingly discovers that Vampire Burt has turned her boyfriend into a zombie. But, as she, in turn, gets bitten; she realizes the ecstatic high of sucking on human blood.
Other members of this eclectic burlesque troupe include: a voluptuous Coco Blasé, powered by Tracey Leigh's strong vocals in her strip number "Bill Daddy," backed by androgynous twinks Gordon (Sam Given) and Christian (Henry McMillan), a Tina Turner-coiffed Dori (Laura Martin, another strong singer evident in "Predator-Ballad" with Sid , the emcee (Brian Gaskill)); and a Rubenesque Babs (Jabez Zuniga) who's quick with sharp-edged quips in every situation.
At Candyland, Clare Dare Human (a commanding Sharon Ferguson) holds court over a meticulously prepared photoshoot, with her right hand person Alice (Lori Scarlett oozing of Devil Wears Prada bitchiness) barking order to their underlings, which includes an Addams Family Lurch-like security guard Dwayne (Dylan Kenin) and a meek lowly assistant June (an endearing Lucy Griffin). Griffin's June and Heitkamp's Todd have a sweet post-coital duet "Scuzzy Toilet" in Candyland's filthy bathroom.
After realizing their friends Connie and Todd have been made undead, the grieving/vengeful troupe attempt to hire the Vampire Hunter (Kenneth Hughes) to kill Vampire Burt. To raise the Hunter's fee, the inventive group hold a strip-a-thon at the Bootleg, and successfully raise the required $10,000 in one evening. Can you believe it?
Cool special effects of vampires' eyes when transforming into attack mode would be hard to duplicate on stage. If performed on stage, the first three rows of the audience would have to be fitted with plastic raincoats to keep from being splattered with sticky fake blood.
End credits feature Richardson singing the catchy "Predator-Swing."