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Theater Review (Seattle): ‘ThanksKilling the Musical’ by Balagan Theatre

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There’s nothing particularly clever about spoofing a spoof of a genre where shittiness is so thoroughly ingrained in the ethos, there’s no point trying to sort out what’s intentionally bad and what’s not. A musical adaptation of a no-budget creature feature of the same name, ThanksKilling the Musical stacks layers of self-parody upon layers of self-parody, throws in a bunch of “transgressive” jokes, and strains both eyeballs winking at the audience. For an adaptation of a tossed-off lark of a movie (if my sampling of the film is accurate), this thing is trying really hard.

The cast of 'ThanksKilling the Musical'. Photo by Jeff Carpenter. Courtesy Balagan Theatre.

The cast of ‘ThanksKilling the Musical’. Photo by Jeff Carpenter. Courtesy Balagan Theatre.

Fortunately, Balagan Theatre’s cast injects some loose fun into the proceedings – little moments of inspired comic anarchy that are a lot more satisfying than a pre-approved drinking game or a thrice-made joke about JonBenét Ramsay that isn’t funny or particularly offensive the first time around. (Also, what year is it?) The parody here barely rises above the Friedberg/Seltzer level of mere recognition of tropes, compiling a cast of horror movie stereotypes – the jock, the nerd, the hick, the slut and the virgin – and expecting us to laugh in amazement at that razor-sharp insight into cinematic types.

So, when a killer turkey begins to systematically off members of the group, often in the middle of a song, his gruff proclamation of “You’re welcome” is, well, welcome. If only he had killed a little faster and gotten this thing under the one-hour mark.

Am I being too harsh on this goof of a show? Yeah, probably. Even if the material isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is, it’s great fun watching Evan Hildebrand and Evan Woltz serenade one another in the foot-stomping man-ballad “Man Love” and Kody Bringman and Larissa Schmitz subvert the types they played in Balagan’s previous production, Carrie, for another romance that’s doomed to fail from the start. Under a mask, Jeff Orton plays the killer turkey with entertainingly rabid bloodlust (and just regular old lust; poor Lindsey Larson). Stealing the show though is Brian Lange playing every secondary character, including a mourning hunter, a disappointed father, and the drinking game emcee.

ThanksKilling the Musical is on stage at Seattle Center’s Cornish Playhouse Studio through Dec. 14. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.