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BWW Reviews: SCARY MUSICAL THE MUSICAL a Fun Entertainment for NoHo ACE

Scary Musical The Musical/book by Richard Hochberg/music & lyrics by Richard Hochberg and Michael Paternostro/directed & choreographed by James J. Mellon/NoHo Arts Center/through November 9

Clever and full of campy humor, the world premiere Scary Musical The Musical has a dangerously speedy pace that will surely keep you on your toes as you enjoyably try to figure out whodunit. Now at the NoHo Arts Center and produced by NoHo ACE, the new musical has brilliantly skilled direction and choreography from James Mellon and boasts a truly killer cast, through November 9.

It's a takeoff on the series of Scary Movies, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels, and every other slasher/horror film to date including Halloween, Friday the 13th, When A Stranger Calls, Psycho, and Carrie...and even the wickedly overplayed child abuse of Mommie Dearest is not spared. Richard Hochberg has set his musical thriller in the little town of Hidden Secrets, USA at Vera Miles High School with the Adrienne Barbeau Fitness Center closeby. Sound silly? Yes, deliciously so.

Even the characters are ridiculously fun reminders like Jamie Lee Leigh (Jane Papageorge), Norman Hates (August Emerson), Carrie Beige (Leigh Golden), and Leeza Courtney Fox (Candi Milo), Of course, the plotline has an escaped mental patient on the loose just as two murders have been committed...and a double, showing up the next day. Jamie Lee Leigh, a new student in town, looks remarkably like the girl Drew (Laurel Carlson) who has just been murdered. There's a hunky, sexy but dumb stud Jason Cravin (Keir Kirkegaard) and cool Freddy Loussier (Frank Authello Andrus Jr.) as well as Norman and Carrie to welcome her to their little clique. Freddy has the hots for Carrie, Jason has the hots for Jamie and Carrie for Jamie, all the while the slasher could be anyone of them, Even their drama coach Mr. MacGuffin ( Matthew Tyler) who enjoys costuming himself in ladies' apparel is suspect as is ace reporter Leeza and her crazed put.upon camgirl Teena (Jennifer Bennett). Hochberg makes a play within a play in which the drama department is producing Scary Musical and the students are auditioning to replace leading lady Drew, who was the killer's first victim followed by her understudy. Funny lines are repeated over and over like "Who would want to kill an understudy?" and the slasher's sense of humor is to die for when he phones his victim and plays a musical theatre trivia game with her. "Who played Evita?" Her response: "In London or New York?" This boffo theatrical humor moves the scenario onward and upward to a wickedly surprise conclusion.

All part of the game, the audience is encouraged to tweet their choice of who is the real killer, at an appropriate time toward the finale. The tweets are counted and the audience favorite is then played out. It's a contemporary spin on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, allowing for a different ending nightly.

The entire ensemble are simultaneously appealing to look at and multi-talented. Kirkegaard takes his shirt off a lot, to the delight of all, flaunting his abs as the sexily dizzy Jason and Emerson and Tyler camp it up frequently as Norman and MacGuffin respectively. Golden is hysterical as the bible toting Carrie and Bennett a scream as the tortured Teena, Equally and egomaniacal is Milo in her frenzied quest to chew up the scenery as reporter Leeza, a la Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. Andrus Jr. gets it on mostly with his furiously sexy dance gyrations and Papageorge eats up every moment as Jamie, especially in her long, funny story about the consequences of being institutionalized in Africa "Out of Africa".

Hochberg and Michael Paternostro's rock opera tunes are deliriously funny with a couple quite poignant, namely Norman's "Mother" and Carrie's "In Jamie's Eyes". Desma Murphy's big, open, barren warehouse-like set is wonderfully creepy with its upper level opaque glass window on one side and blinds on the other, and Luke Moyer's lighting is spookily dark.

Go see Scary Musical The Musical! It's a scream. Perfect timing with the onset of Halloween!

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From This Author Don Grigware