Unauthorized musical versions of popular films are gaining traction in Los Angeles. From Clueless at Rockwell Table & Stage to Psycho at El Cid, more and more are popping up around the city. Just finishing up its run is I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical at El Cid. Adapted by Jordan Ross and directed by Joey Bybee, the 1997 horror film is brought to appropriately campy life using nostalgic dialogue from the film, plus a playlist of ‘90s B-side songs. Who knew murder could be so much fun?
The Kids Aren’t Alright
For those who missed out on the glory of the Jennifer Love Hewitt-starring film, I Know What You Did Last Summer focuses on four teens that accidentally run over a man after a night of partying. To cover up their tracks, they dump the man’s body into the river, hoping to wash away their wrongdoing. A year later, on the anniversary of the hit-and-run (naturally), the four teens reunite when one receives a note hinting that the man they thought was dead just might not be…And he is out for revenge.
I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical is not a traditional theater production. The audience sits at tables and can drink and dine as they please, while the actors perform all around them. With no set pieces to speak of, the production relies on the movement of the actors throughout the space and lighting to delineate locations. The performers walk up and down the aisles, use the balcony opposite the stage, and incorporate several random audience members in various scenes. The majority of the production takes place on the stage, but guests are left swiveling in their seats to keep an eye on the exciting action.
My Own Worst Enemy
Capitalizing on a sense of nostalgia, I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical incorporates ‘90s B-sides from popular artists like Eve 6, Third Eye Blind, The Verve Pipe, Alanis Morissette and No Doubt. And the cast, made up of up-and-coming actor-singers from film and TV, dives into the soundtrack with a precision that cuts like a knife. The mixture of newly arranged mash-ups, solos and intricate harmonies took me back to my high school years, and I saw many others in the audience singing along like myself.
The cast of I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical has so much fun in their roles, it’s hard not to identify with them and scream out, “look behind you!” (which is encouraged) when the Fisherman looms with his murdering hook. At the heart of the production is Bianca Gisselle (Julie); she keeps the teens together and tries her damnedest to figure out how to stop the murders. Greer Grammer’s Helen is a hoot when saying all the classic lines we know and love (“Listen, you little shit-stick-mayberry-ass reject!”), and sympathetic when asking Julie where their friendship went wrong during “Don’t Speak.” Ryan Sutton Stevens is a great choice for Ray, and fills Freddie Prinze Jr.’s shoes perfectly as Julie’s sweet but poor boyfriend. Brian Logan Dales, playing Helen’s douche boyfriend Barry, has a great singing voice, and it is hard to hate his misogynistic character. The most recognizable face in the cast is Scott Porter (TV’s Friday Night Lights) playing Ben/The Fisherman; he performs with a menacing ferocity that is understandable for a man left for dead. Rounding out the cast are Alli Miller and Matthew Scott Montgomery, both playing multiple roles and absolutely nailing their characters’ songs (Miller’s “Sunny Came Home” and Montgomery’s “Creep”) and quirky traits to hilarious effect.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical is a fantastically fun look back at the 1997 film, and the inclusion of ‘90s songs only adds to the camp. The actors bring the characters to fully-realized life and burst with musical talent. I was engaged from beginning to end – I was hooked!
I Know What You Did Last Summer: The Unauthorized Musical has currently ended its run, but will be remounted in July, 2019. For more shows at El Cid, see their website or Facebook page, and check out our Calendar for future events.