Robot Monster the Musical
Directed by Derek Long
Music, Lyrics and Book Adaptation by Rich Silverman
Reviewed June 10, 2017, at the Hollywood Fringe
A notoriously awful 1953 3D sci-fi epic has been adapted for the stage and given the musical treatment with Robot Monster: The Musical, making its world premiere at the Fringe.
All of mankind has been destroyed by alien intruder Ro-Man, except for eight survivors who have become immune to his death ray thanks to a serum developed by the Professor (Don Margolin).
Ro-Man offers the survivors a choice of painless death or resistance death. They refuse to negotiate, so Ro-Man decides to pick them off one at a time in order to complete his mission and satisfy his master, the Great Guidance. Ro-Man’s plan becomes complicated when he develops an unnatural attraction for the Professor’s daughter, Alice (Jamie Miller).
With 16 new songs by composer Rich Silverman, Robot Monster is a fun concept that runs out of steam about three-quarters of the way through its running time. There are a few too many musical numbers, and the show hews too closely to the original film’s moldy plot when it has such an opportunity for higher camp.
The cast of Robot Monster does its best to inject the kind of winking comedy that one would expect into the material. Andrew Villareal is amusing as Roy, the archetypal hero, and Dana DeRuyck is convincing as young Johnny. Margolin’s heavily-accented professor provides some laughs, and Stephanie Thomas quietly steals scenes as wisecracking little Carla. Ironically, some of the most amusing moments came by way of flubs (Villareal loses his shoe during a dance number, Margolin loses control of his accent) during last Saturday night’s performance. This unintentional breaking of the fourth wall was funnier than the script.
Robot Monster: The Musical plays June 15, 18 and 23 at Sacred Fools Theatre Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way. Tickets and more information can be obtained on the Fringe site.
Slashed! The Musical
Directed by Chelsea Stardust
Book, music and lyrics by Sean Keller
Reviewed June 9, 2017, at the Hollywood Fringe
It’s 1983, and Camp Freedom is once again opening for the summer despite the terrible events that had occurred there years before. Known locally as Camp Doom, the place is said to be haunted by the malevolent spirit of little Peetie Jergins, a camper who drowned while the counselors who were supposed to be minding him were having sex.
As advertised, Slashed! is a mashup of the slasher movie tropes of the 1980s, with some energetic musical numbers thrown in. All the expected characters are here: the virginal camp counselor, the local looney, the promiscuous campers, and – of course – the masked, machete-wielding killer. There are also the terrible 1980s outfits (short-shorts, leggings) and hairstyles to make the nostalgia complete.
Brimming with groan-inducing, era-appropriate gags and well performed by an appealing cast, Slashed! may well make you want to dig out your old VHS player and pop in your original release of Friday the 13th.
Slashed! the Musical plays June 15, 18, 19 and 23 at the OMR Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd. More information can be found on the Fringe site.
The Slashed! cast album is available as a free download on Bandcamp.