Summer is dead and buried, and I've been reflecting on a great summer, which included two horror-centric musicals. I am a bonafide (and BA-degreed) theater geek, so I seek out horror musicals wherever they are. My favorites include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Little Shop of Horrors, and The Rocky Horror Show. (I have yet to see Evil Dead: The Musical, Carrie: The Musical, American Psycho: The Musical, or Silence! The Musical).
The Toxic Avenger: The Musical is based on Troma's legendary 1980 film of the same name. However, this show does not simply try to recreate the movie and instead becomes a love letter to all B-Horror movies and wrapped up in a hilarious, campy tunes. I witnessed The Stage's production in San Jose, California and it was absolutely fantastic. The reviews did not lie, this is a seriously entertaining show with a "comically overblown ’80s rock style, the songs are marvelously clever."
Meanwhile, over at City Lights Theater Company, also in San Jose the infamous 1892 case of Lizzie Borden was examined in LIZZIE, a bold, brash rock musical concert piece that defies categorization. It tells the story of the young woman accused of killing her father and stepmother with an ax. But it delves much deeper into her abusive father, the distant sister, and the unrequited love who spurned her as well. It's tragic and sad, and the feverish songs sear into your brain and heart and the four-lady ensemble belts song after song. It's harrowing and liberating. (Read the full Mercury News Review.)