“You feel you’re gonna live forever at nineteen. We get off tempting fate with lose moralities. But death is out there stalking us each day. Why must it always end this way?”
“You’re all gonna die.”
Background vocals echo “Hack, hack; chop, chop”—reminiscent of the famous “Ki Ki Ki, Ma Ma Ma” from Friday the 13th. This is the opening number, “Camp Doom”, to Slashed! The Musical by Rocket Ships and Dreams Productions. No one is safe in Slashed, a witty, self-aware, horror-comedy musical that parodies the 1980’s summer-camp-slasher genre. The show wastes no time jumping into jokes about Angela from Sleepaway Camp, Cropsey from The Burning, Jason from Friday the 13th, and even a Footloose pun thrown in for good measure.
Taking place in an alternate universe where summer camp killings are commonplace, the story is centered on “the curse of the ghost of the kid who died because everyone was fucking.” Much like the other camps of legend, Camp Doom—I mean, Camp Freedom—comes complete with Looney Lucy (a nice nod to Friday the 13th’s Crazy Ralph) to warn all new comers: “You’re all gonna die.” That doesn’t deter the new camp counselors from showing up; they’re ready for some sex, drugs, and drinking!
With the cast assembled, we’re introduced to Blaine (Curt Bonnem) and Theresa (Clarke Wolfe) who shine as a married couple looking to start anew at the camp. Joyce (Elissa Wagner) brings the sex appeal as she tries to seduce Andy (Acquah Dansoh), who is not afraid to take off his shirt and show off his best assets (his voice, come on). Mary O’Neil plays the nerdy Shelly (another wonderful role-reversing Friday the 13th reference), who’s energy and enthusiasm commands attention in each scene she is in, especially when she’s singing. Tim Kopacz puts a twist on the “Final Girl” as the virginal Todd, who is a little too good looking for his role, but his acting sells his performance beautifully. Paige (Kristyn Chalker) plays the rebel of the group, whose badassery and impressive voice are not to be trifled with. Fayna Sanchez as Looney Lucy owns her character and is not afraid to get intimate with her audience, licking her lips and hiking up her skirt to elicit a reaction from those in the front row. Finally, Sean Keller, as Little Peetie Jergins, provides a sympathetic look at these inhuman serial killers who are forced to kill in the name of correcting past wrongs.
Each character embodies a comical stereotype from the slasher genre—which normally would make them one dimensional. However, writer Sean Keller (pulling double duty) does a fantastic job of providing some depth and dimension in the tight 45-minute performance. This doesn’t provide enough time to flesh out each character though; some are hacked, hacked, and chopped, chopped to death before they can be expanded beyond a joke. I would love to have learned more about their backstories and see what this production team and cast could do with a full budget for a longer runtime.
The sets are minimal: two small tents are cleverly used to illuminate silhouettes of the counselors and their misdeeds. The special effects provide a different take on the slasher genre. Instead of providing a splatter zone like So You Want To Be A Vampire or even using real blood, they shower their audience in red yarn and fake plastic body parts with each kill. This provides an almost child-like wonder to the performance and feels new and fresh. While I would never argue with a splatter zone, I enjoyed the hilarity of seeing plastic arms, legs, and even heads flying out from behind a tent.
Finally, to mention the musical aspect of this performance: The songs are fantastic. I am not a huge musical fan, but these songs are catchy as hell and I found myself listening to the soundtrack on repeat while writing this review—and I plan to continue even after it. The songs were cohesively integrated into the narrative, each contributing and driving the plot forward, rather than providing a nonsensical break just for the sake of singing. Each song provided something to grab your attention as well: whether it was comical staging, a grisly murder, or even a shirtless man doing push-ups. As the songs and show progressed, they felt referential: including themes, lines, and melodies from earlier songs. This aspect helped embed each song in your head with the force of a slasher’s machete.
Slashed is a love letter to the summertime slasher genre. It’s charming, it’s witty, and it’s fun. As a musical, the songs are catchy and you will find yourself humming “Camp Doom” into the next week. If you’re a fan of 80’s campy horror, musicals, or just damn good theater, then make sure you don’t miss Slashed! The Musical—it’s a killer time!
Tickets for Slashed! The Musical are available through the Fringe Festival’s official website and runs through June 24th at studio/stage at 520 N. Western.
For even more Fringe Festival recommendations, check out Haunting’s interviews with the creators of upcoming 2017 Fringe shows like Narcissus and Echo and Dark Arts, reviews of shows like So You Want To Be A Vampire, The Rise and Fall of Dracula, Normal, Easy Targets, and Fire & Light, or a full listing of notable experiences on our events page.