BWW Reviews: Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre's Outrageous CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL

Back in 1993, Cannibal!The Musical was a peculiar foray into low budget film by director Trey Parker that didn't really find its audience. But, after the phenomenal success of South Park people starting renting it on DVD, soon discovering the kind of quirky humor and tuneful songwriting that had become such an integral part of the animated show's success. With everyone in need of a good laugh during the holiday season, Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre has put together a revival of their 2011 production, and it's every bit as funny and welcome as their original staging, in fact, it's on an even grander scale. This is a show I highly recommend, at least if you have the kind of offbeat sense of humor that I do.

The story follows the exploits of the infamous Alferd Packer who led a group of 21 miners into the wilderness toward the promised land of Breckenridge, Colorado, but wound up lost, and ended up being convicted of cannibalism when members of his party were found partially eaten. Cannibal! The Musical takes a slightly different approach, even though a lot of the historical elements are intact, including the reporter Polly Pry from the Denver Post, who helped Packer get released from prison.

Keith Parker reprises his role as as Packer, and he treats the comedic aspects of his character with earnest sincerity. His clear voice makes the music come alive in dramatic fashion, and he's well matched with Sarah Porter's all-in performance as reporter Polly Pry. Chris "Mr." Jones does nice work as a Mormon pastor who's seeking a fortune in order to build a church. When he gets a bit unruly all hell breaks loose. Patrick Kelly amuses as Israel Swan, the happy-go-lucky member of the party who, when things look their bleakest, suggests the group construct a snowman. Eustace Allen is funny as James Humphrey, a perpetual liar who's been cajoled into the journey by his parents. Ben Ritchie has fun as Frank Miller, a butcher with an attitude who winds up in "timeout" when he gets a little out of line. Sean Green rounds out the cast as the eternally-horny George Noon.

A large and talented supporting cast includes: Jeff Kargus as Frenchy, a menacing trapper with an unusual ensemble, Betsy Bowman as Packer's prized horse Liane, who leaves him because "she's a trapper horse," Soupy Alan David, who contributes nicely as the Chief of a suspiciously oriental Indian tribe, and Nicole Angeli is a blast in several roles. In fact, the entire casts seems to be having a great time, and that usually translates to the audience having one as well.

Suki Peters gets a bigger canvas to work with and manages to maintain the traits that made the original production so funny to begin with, while having the space to expand on those concepts. Bob Singleton's visual projections, as well as the duplication of the short gory film that opens the original movie, add immeasurably. Patrick Blindauer's music direction is well done, and so are Larry Kornfeld's tracks. Beth Ashby's costumes and the scenic design of Brian Peters also enhance the show. Maria Straub's choreography adds to the merriment, particularly during the big "hanging day" number.

Cannibal! The Musical is a cool alternative to the onslaught of yuletide fare you're going to get bombarded with, so you might as well have a giggle or two, right? Go see The Magic Smoking Money Theatre's production at The Ivory Theatre through December 6, 2014.

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From This Author Chris Gibson

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