I Totally Know What You Did Last Donna Summer /by Dane Whitlock & Amy Procacci/directed by Dane Whitlock/Cavern Club Celebrity Theater @ Casita Del Campos /thru October 25, 2014

I Totally Know What You Did Last Donna Summer -totally a must-see for aficionados of slasher movies spoofs or Donna Summer infectious disco tunes! Dane Whitlock directs his creation, subtitled "A New Musical Mash-up Parody SLASHER Musical," at a uproarious neck-breaking pace allowing just enough time to laugh at the hysterical antics or gasp at the low-budget frights or sway your bodies to the recognition of Donna Summer classics. Whitlock has smartly integrated various Summer hits into the show to move the plotlines along. Also onstage, Whitlock knocks his role of newscaster Windy Storm out of the ballpark with a larger than life presence, singing and dancing, right up there with the best of Broadway's triple threats. More homage to than parody of Donna Summers, the talented cast all sing well; especially Libby Baker, as Sissy, and Frances Chewning, as Rosemary, coordinating vocals on the Summer-Streisand duet "No More Tears." Some strong pipes on these two ladies! "MacArthur Park" has the entire cast singing and dancing in a fantastically fun production number. Kudos to choreographer Joseph Corella for his clever steps making all look good in their hoofing.

Show begins with five friends driving home from a late night exploration in the woods of Salem Parish when they run over a lone pedestrian in middle of the dark highway. In panic, they drag the body to the nearby river and dump him in. Could he be the escapee from the adjacent asylum? Nobody knows. One year passes to the day and the three girls of this group receive letters stating "I'm still alive." Could it be that the accident, then drowned victim's still alive? One-by-one, some of the five friends start to be eliminated via scary and choreographed means.

Everyone in the cast have their collective and individual moments to shine on stage. Co-writer Amy Procacci, as Tiny the unattached friend of the group, has the comic timing of a seasoned original SNL cast member. Matt Herrmann's perfectly laid back as Tweak, even as his advances get frequently rebuffed by Rosemary. Of course, in the horror of that fateful night, Rosemary's defenses drop and when we rejoin the cast one year later, Tweak and Rosemary's baby's in her arms. Ben Palacios, possessing a sculpted- like-marble physique, winningly plays Ray Jay with an amusingly intriguing accent. Mark Rowe's ideal as Sheriff Haskins, Salem Parish's law enforcer who happened to have had at least one intimate night with Windy Storm. (Rowe's certainly fast with his ad-libs as his prop gun kept falling apart during the performance I caught.) Erik Scott Romney doubles as the creepy stalking Ernie, easily morphing into an abled and smooth song-and-dance man in all his production numbers. Nice! Then there's Les Kurkendaal as the roller skating Tootie, Sissy's black sister who shows up to give her sisterly support. BTW; Procacci, Baker, Chewning, and Whitlock kill with their rendition of "Bad Girls."

Give it up to the light and sound designer/operator JT Seaton for the cheesy (of course!) timely black-outs and sound effects boosting the many scary, scary incidents. Low-tech flashlights held below each actors' faces in the graveyard scene effectively enhance the spookiness of the time.

References to Gloria Gaynor, Spandau Ballet, Cagney & Lacey, Starsky & Hutch registered well with those who were of dancing and TV viewing age in the late '70's and early '80s.

I laughed until I cried! Go with someone familiar with Donna Summer songs. Or just be into disco and slasher flicks! Haaa-ha-ha!!! (echo, echo, echo!)


Review: A TRANSPARENT MUSICAL at Mark Taper Forum Photo
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