THRILLPEDDLERS SUMMER MUSICAL IS TWISTED
AND NOT TO BE MISSED
The best part of attending a Thrillpeddlers production is finding the black box stage tucked under San Francisco's downtown freeways. That is the first act for me, following the crowd into the cave of sorts, at the Hypnodrome stage. Smelling the popcorn popping and the energy of the company as they ready for another night of high end insanity in CLUB INFERNO. The original production was in 2000 at The Paradise Lounge in SOMA and featured the incredible talents of Connie Champagne, Arturo Galster, Leigh Crow, Birdie Bob Watt, Princess Kennedy, Jordan L’Moore, Trauma Flintstone, as well as the shows creators Peter Fogel and Kelly Kittell. This 2015 version is still a classic blend of sinful women and kick-ass rock with a classic story of the afterlife. CLUB INFERNO rock musical is twisted perfection and is part of Thrillpeddlers’ 8th Theatre of the Ridiculous revival, their annual tradition that revived The Cockettes musicals. The show’s creators and a number of the original cast members joined in this revival.
CLUB INFERNO definitely has a “Rocky Horror” feel to it, but add a better score and a cast of San Francisco's perfect Drag Queens and you have the best ride through hell that Dante could create. With music by Peter Fogel and book by Kelly Kittell some of the songs are catchy pop to death metal evil. Directed by the very talented Russell Blackwood, who greets you as you enter his performance cave. Blackwood put together a talented local cast with local favorites including Birdie-Bob Watt as Xaron, and Matthew Simmons (Peggy L Eggs) as Dante.
One of the perfect highlights of the ride through hell is John Flaw as the glitter bearded Virgil. Flaw brings some real talent to this company, his acting singing and performance on his guitar is a scene stealer. Dante and Virgil sing “I’ll Help You Find Your Way” is well done but Flaw is the kickstarter to this first act. Dante has a tragic novella moment as the story opens and before she meet the gates of hell, Virgil guides her through the afterworld. The amazing Birdie-Bob Watt (who did some of musical arrangements) is perfectly cast as Xaron a Satanic narrator of sorts who operates the Hellevator of Dante’s journey home.
I can’t proceed without giving a standing ovation to Glenn Krumbholz, Jim Kumiega, Kira Rob and Tina Sogliuzzo amazing show stopping costumes. Xaron wig is also a character on its own designed by Wig Master Flynn DeMarco. I usually save shout outs to the creative staff last, but this visual set and lighting by James Blackwood, Nicholas Torre, and Chris Paulina keeps this Hell-a-torium as twisted and brilliant and cool enough not to lose the actors on stage. Music Director who is on stage for most of the evening Birdie-Bob Watt and band leader Steve Bolinger, with Tim Perdue and Tommy Salamiits, impressive that most of the main cast played their own instruments.
As the Hellevator carries the show from “Divine Comedy” scene to the next, we meet a company of characters including the stunning Noah Haydon as the sexy Cleopatra, the wonderful glitter loaded Zelda Koznofski as Judy Garland. Amber Somerfeld was spot on as Joan of Arc, fire and all in the very funny song “Always Say Your Prayers”. The powerhouse Leigh Crow, drops in as MaMa Cass and Lucercia Borgia - and stops the show with her solo “Your New Friend”. The very camp David Bicha plays Isadora Duncan and Aimee Semple MacPherson brings down the hell house with “Little White Lies”. Trannyshack is name dropped and yes this show is the kind of Drag that this city is famous for. Its well performed and the camp is splendid and the costumes and wigs zany great.
Director Blackwood keeps the two hours moving, and Marilynn Fowler choreography is sloppy but fits the hell “mode of operation”. The closing number with the cast “Reach For The Stars” is the anthem of the night. Thrillpeddlers past shows are famous for tits, ass and cock, but this show is fully clothed and as I have raved about the costumes - thats all good. This is a fun night in CLUB INFERNO and it will have you stand and cheer. The show runs through August 8th and it is the ideal summer entertainment. How many “hell” puns can I add, but please go “burn in hell” with this wonderful cast and talented creative team.
The Road to Fame Can Be Hell A Glam Rock Musical
Based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy
Concept, Book, and Lyrics by Kelly Kittell Music & Lyrics by Peter Fogel Add’tl.
Material, Musical Direction & Arrangements by Birdie-Bob Watt
Choreography by Marilynn Fowler Directed by Russell Blackwood
Extends it’s Run for One Month - an Additional 12 Performances
Aug. 20 – Sept. 12, 2015 - (Thurs., Fri. & Sat. - 8:00 pm)
The Hypnodrome in San Francisco
Tickets> http://hypnodrome.org Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1623006041249862/
Photo’s by David Allen