‘Re-Animator’ scares up musical fun

There will be blood. Copious amounts.

So copious, in fact, that the squeamish are advised to arrive early and sit far away from the first three rows — which have been designated “Splash Zones” for those willing to wear plastic-bag ponchos and brave frequent floods of stage blood. (To say nothing of the pass-around body parts and other break-the-fourth-wall assaults on the audience by the enthusiastically demented players.)

Fortunately, there will also be laughs — which is precisely the point in “Re-Animator the Musical.”

An L.A. import playing The Smith Center’s cozy Troesh Studio Theater through Jan. 18, “Re-Animator” is aptly named.

It’s based on the 1985 cult movie (a critics’ award-winner at the annual Cannes film festival, mind you) based on a 1922 H.P. Lovecraft tale that originally appeared as a six-part serial in something called Home Brew Magazine.

That gives you some sense of the show’s campy origins, which this musical adaptation scrupulously respects — and resurrects.

It helps that the movie’s writer-director, Stuart Gordon, is back to helm the show — and that he and co-writers Dennis Paoli and William J. Norris maintain the movie’s delirious mix of humor and horror.

It helps even more that Mark Nutter’s witty, derivative-by-design score not only carries the narrative (there’s hardly any spoken dialogue, aside from the groans and screams) but reflects “Re-Animator’s” slice-and-dice aesthetic.

Listen closely and you’ll hear echoes of everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Bernard Herrmann’s classic “Psycho” score, complete with shrieking strings, along with a gut-busting variation on Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” (A special shout-out to music director Peter Adams, who must have borrowed a spare hand from one of the onstage corpses to help him keep up on the keyboards.)

In a series of skitlike scenes, we witness the often hilarious terror that ensues when mad med student Herbert West (owlish, bespectacled Graham Skipper — think Harry Potter-meets-Young Frankenstein) develops a glowing green serum capable of reviving the dead.

Such a shame it transforms its recipients into raging zombies.

Still, sacrifices must be made on the road to scientific triumph — some of whom may be, in no particular order, Herbert’s jealous medical school professor (the operatically trained, uproariously over-the-top Jesse Merlin); the ambitious medical school dean (“Cheers’ ” George Wendt, going from Norm to abnormal in briskly comic style); and the dean’s winsome daughter Meg (a slyly perky Jessica Howell).

Alas, Meg’s dreams of a fancy formal wedding to Herbert’s roommate, never-say-die med student Dan Cain (the amusingly earnest Darren Ritchie), seem doomed once Herbert starts re-animating unsuspecting subjects — starting with Dan’s cat Rufus.

Credit the award-winning special effects crew (“Re-Animator” movie veterans John Buechler, Tony Doublin and John Naulin, along with Tim Devlin and Greg McDougall) with “Re-Animator the Musical’s” impressively in-your-face array of giggle-inducing gross-outs.

They may be tasteless, shameless and nasty.

But they’re also the point in “Re-Animator the Musical,” so there’s no point in pointing out what’s missing: the utter lack of characterization, let alone character development, that would give all the camp-it-up comedy some genuine emotional impact.

Don’t laugh; even horror musicals can have heart along with all the blood. Think of Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece “Sweeney Todd” (which bestrides the narrow subgenre like the colossus it is) or even “Little Shop of Horrors,” which gives its characters — human and otherwise — genuine yearnings, motivations and emotional shadings.

“Re-Animator the Musical’s” not interested in any of that, of course. It just wants to give its audiences a (literally) bloody good time. And on that score, it scores.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu (Al Mancini Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like