'Blood Orgy of the Chainsaw Chorus Line' delivers laughs


“Did anyone hear a chainsaw?”

“Blood Orgy of the Chainsaw Chorus Line” is a hilarious send-up of the Las Vegas community theater scene by Larry Larson and Eddie “Levi” Lee now showing at the Onyx Theatre. The show is described as a “grindhouse comedy,” and much of Larson and Lee’s humor depends upon beating a dead corpse. Director Troy Heard keeps the audience groaning with gags that range from sophisticated to sophomoric, delivered by cast members so funny, they earn laughs just by walking onstage.

A Las Vegas community theater is staging “Charlie: The Vegas Spectacular,” a musical based on the Manson murders. In a spoof of “A Chorus Line,” a group of theater gypsies gathers on the stage to audition. Elements of their imminent destruction are prominently displayed against the back wall of the theater stage, like Hedda Gabler’s pistols.

From the moment Rob Kastil sweeps onto the stage as Director Steve Velour, there is not a single moment that he is not funny. He imbues his character with such dramatic self-seriousness that every gesture and line is laugh-out-loud funny.

As funny as Kastil is, he is almost upstaged by Gabriel Gentile as Rufus, the Igor-like stage manager who is so adorably funny I found myself oohing and aahing over him like a cute puppy. Gentile creates a Munchkin language that at first is indecipherable but is so consistent and expert that you soon understand him perfectly well.

À la Zach from “A Chorus Line,” Velour joins the audience as the actors audition onstage, but Mercy Sherbert Smith, the lone remaining critic after budget cuts at the local newspaper, rudely interrupts the audition. Though Velour tells her, “You’re not a journalist, you’re a critic,” all fawn over her in the hopes of a good review. Smith is played with sharp-edged satire by Sophia Martin and surprisingly isn’t the first bloody victim of the stage mayhem.

Kellie Wright purposively and hilariously upstages everyone as Mona Merkin, the star who is set to play Sharon Tate in “Charlie,” despite being rather long-in-the-tooth for a role that has been secured for her through her romantic relationship with the show’s hick but wealthy producer, Dallas J. Cobb. Wright plays Merkin as Mother Goddamn, an actress who has survived “uppers, downers, nondairy creamer” and is still here in velvet and furs. When she belts out (Wright has an impressive set of pipes) the big romantic ballad from “Charlie” about the kismet meeting of Charlie and Sharon — “The writing is on the wall” — I was crying tears of laughter.

Effeminate bear Peter Lance (his audition warm-up outfit is little short of a tutu) is played by an amazingly versatile Anthony Turchiano. Peter is encouraged to try out for the part of Charles Manson by his air-blonde friend, Barbie Smoond, played as a charming ditz by Brenna Folger. Rehearsing for his audition, Turchiano as Peter does a brilliant pantomime of Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance.”

Soon enough the body count begins to mount as one after another meets a grisly end. But the show must go on and the chorus, with assorted body parts in hand, breaks into “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Detective Rod, who is suffering with PTSD from Vietnam, is called in to solve the crimes. He asks, “Who had the most to gain from these murders?” The answer: “The audience.”

The device of a police interrogation gives the lead characters a chance to perform a background monologue that, while humorous, also allows the actors to whet their acting chops. Kat Winston as the ethnically challenged Ilsa Von Shevulf and Eric “Travis” Wilson as Cobb, are particularly effective in their monologues.

The show is played strictly for laughs, and there is only one jump-in-your seat scary moment. For my money there could have been way more blood and guts on the stage. It is the kind of show where you should expect to have to visit the dry cleaners if you sit in the front row. But “Blood Orgy” will have you howling with laughter if not with fear.

 

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