Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

April 18, 2011 at 12:51pm

CARV’S WEEKLY BLOG: "Cannibal! The Musical"

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As you know if you read my review of what I called Cannibal! the Rehearsal, it's a tragically bad idea to invite your critics eight days early when you're still putting in lights and sound equipment, your costumes aren't finished, and you still have cast members you're not going to use. I regret nothing I said about that "performance," as it was true at the time. It isn't now. I felt so bad about what happened that I took the liberty of seeing the finished show at its final dress performance. Boy howdy, what a difference a week can make.

The kids who roamed the stage like it was Basement of the Damned? Gone. A battle-weary cast wearily wearying about random tech glitches? Unwearied. That indeterminate character in a green tunic? Determinate. In a word, the show is fun now. It feels like the theatrical version of the kind of randomly rad punk show you might stumble into in the Voyeur or the Midnight Sun. Oh, sure, a fair number of jokes are still mere references to pop culture; granted, at least three of the singers still couldn't find a key with Google Maps. But the show moves so fast now that it's already moved on to something else before you can ruminate on the aural assault.

Dave Beacham and Christian Doyle are just as good now as they were last week, and Christine Pearch-Goode is even better as Liane. Dennis Worrell and Silva Goetz added final nuances to their work as a 'roid-raging trapper and a Denver Post reporter, respectively. Tom Sanders snarls through his darkly amusing turn as the audience surrogate, and Tim Goebel draws laughs from thin jokes as a button-down narrator. Doyle's fight choreography moves swiftly but often threatens to inflict collateral damage on patrons in the front row.

Theater Artists Olympia (TAO) has long had a bipolarity problem. It wants to do edgy but professional theater, but it also wants to embrace musical camp. I think this nearly-finished version of Cannibal! the Musical finds the razor-thin DMZ between those objectives about as well as it possibly can, given the company's limited resources. Olympia's rock-'n'-roll history lends itself to punk theater, and the Eagles Hall basement might be exactly the grungy, subterranean space an underground theater company can enliven. I just hope going forward that TAO's process can be rather less tumultuous; it's exhausting for its members and a crapshoot for the final product. But this time, against seemingly insurmountable odds, Cannibal! the Musical is poised for success.

Filed under: Arts, Theater, Olympia,
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