Bloody good

Cannibal: The Musical

Before gaining attention with South Park, Trey Parker created this twisted little number while still attending Colorado State. Cannibal: The Musical is a tribute of sorts to the old-school Hollywood musical, using as its frame the true story of one of America’s pioneers of cannibalism, Alferd Packer.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the rest. If you haven’t seen it and have a taste for twisted humor, rent it. And for everyone who missed Chico State’s Shoebox Ensemble and its two-night production of the play last weekend, you missed the most consistently funny theater event of the year. Losers.

Adapted and choreographed by Cameron Fife (who also played Packer) and directed by Julia D. Dalton, the cult classic was brought back to the stage in fine fashion. Shoebox Ensemble worked a zero budget to its advantage—multi-levels of the proposed stage were literally sketched in chalk and then approached as if realized, and there was a wonderful gag utilizing a strip of blue cloth to represent a raging river. Dalton and crew reveled in theater of controlled anarchy, with a complete disregard to the fourth wall, at one point halting the proceedings to cap a seeming audience member who neglected to turn off his cell phone.

While the songs are god-awful, they are also insidiously catchy, and the cast gave excellent interpretations (extra props go to Katie Babb for taking the weakest song of the lot and actually giving it wings). Gorehound that I am, I was disappointed that the overt Grand Guignol elements (such as sopping-red set piece involving a villain who wouldn’t die) were removed, but realistically it’s hard to dance on a fake-blood-soaked stage. Instead, here the Shoebox Ensemble furthered the self-satire of musical conventions by adding chorines to the infamous “Let’s Build a Snowman” scene, to hilarious effect.

The only shame was that the run was limited to two shows. Hopefully, another venue will invite the Shoebox Ensemble over for a reprise.