TREY PARKER’S CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL plays February 10 to March 1 at the Panasonic (651 Yonge). Tickets from $29.95. 416-872-1212, mirvish.com
How do you adapt a cult film classic for the stage?
If you’re writer/director Christopher Bond and writer/performer Trevor Martin, you do it with an eye to milking the original’s laughs and songs and adding more of your own.
And to ensure that it all works, you add a major dash of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park, The Book Of Mormon). Their latest, Cannibal! The Musical, co-created with Aaron Eyre, is based on the first film that Parker and Stone shot, made on a shoestring budget after they graduated from the University of Colorado.
Based on the true tale of Alferd Packer, the only person ever convicted of cannibalism in America, it follows the adventures of Packer and five miners, lost in the Rockies during a major storm.
Bond and Martin have tackled cult movies before they were major forces behind stage shows Evil Dead – The Musical and Night Of The Living Dead.
“South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was a major influence on Evil Dead,” recalls Bond. “I love South Park’s comedic lyrics, which are cutting, sharp, silly and funny. If you’re a fan of South Park in any of its forms, you’re gonna discover Cannibal! at some point and be taken by it, too.”
“I saw Cannibal! when I was just out of high school,” adds Martin, “and what struck me then and now is the lightness in handling the material, the sweetness that the characters have, something you don’t expect when you’re dealing with a topic like this.”
In fact, in comparison to Evil Dead and Night Of The Living Dead, Cannibal! has very little blood and gore. Instead, the writers want to emphasize the goofiness of the story.
“The original film has seven songs and reprises, retained in the stage version, which adds five new songs and other musical moments.
“It’s no longer a screenplay but rather a theatrical creation, with a good opening number and big first-act curtain. We’ve kept the spirit and soul of the movie intact, though. The result is still campy, a parody of old-time musicals like Oklahoma with a sprinkle of Friday The 13th.”
With that in mind, they’ve cast potent musical theatre and comedy performers, including Elicia MacKenzie (The Sound Of Music) and Liam Tobin (Triple Sensation) and strong comedic talents, including Marty Adams, Mike “Nug” Nahrgang and Mark Andrada.
“At its centre,” says Bond, “this show is about the journey of the six central figures, Packer and the miners. It’s an ensemble comedy show, a tale about friendship and adversity.
“It just so happens that at the end people get eaten.”
The book of Parker
It’s hard to think of a more revolutionary – not to mention hilarious – new Broadway show than The Book Of Mormon, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone’s 2011 look at a group of Mormon missionaries trying to spread their religion to poverty- and AIDS-stricken villagers in Uganda. In its original Tony Award-winning Broadway run, demand was so high at one point that people paid nearly $500 a ticket for premium seats. Two national tours, a sit-down production in Chicago and in London’s West End have done equally well.
But of course, Parker and Stone – the creators of South Park – weren’t musical novices when they wrote BoM. They showed the same irreverence in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which bagged them an Oscar nomination for the song Blame Canada. And let’s not forget Everyone Has AIDS, the Rent-parody song near the opening of Team America: World Police, arguably funnier than that graphic sex sequence between two dolls.
It all began in 1993, however, when Parker, still studying at the University of Colorado, wrote, directed, produced and starred in the indie film Cannibal! The Musical. Now, with this production you get to see Cannibal! live, with five new songs that expand on Parker’s black humour and catchy riffs.
Get ready to eat it up, folks.
Take advantage of these exclusive downloads of three songs from Cannibal! The Musical. Here’s the background on them, including one of five new songs.
Meat My Destiny
One of five new featured songs written for the show this gospel-inspired duet by Christopher Bond, Aaron Eyre and Trevor Martin, is performed by Alferd and his guardian Angel (Tobin and MacKenzie). Alferd and his mining pals are lost and starving in the Rockies when he realizes that perhaps his destiny is to sacrifice himself for the group.
This is Trey Parker’s answer to Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, sung by the hero, Alferd Packer (Liam Tobin). Happy and upbeat, this song will stick in your head.
This Side of Me
A beautiful ballad sung by Polly Pry (Elicia Mackenzie), a hard-nosed reporter who’s bent on getting the story of a lifetime. Meeting Alferd “The Cannibal” Packer, she soon realizes he’s not what she expected.