Halloween is around the corner and two local theater outfits are ringing in the annual celebration of all things macabre with world premieres.
Playwright Forrest Attaway and composer Eric Redding unveil “Chainsaw: The Musical” at the Living Room, 1818 McGee St. Performances began this week and the show officially opens Saturday. Attaway wants to make clear that it’s not a stage version of Tobe Hooper’s horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” although the movie and others were a source of inspiration.
Late Night Theatre, meanwhile, on Friday opens “Poultry-geist,” a new piece by Ron Megee and Jessica Dressler. The show opens Friday at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St. As the title suggests, the show parodies Hooper’s 1982 scarefest “Poltergeist.” This chicken-flavored satire features a suburban family haunted by spirits from the graveyard beneath the foundation of their house. In this case, the house was built atop the ruins of a chicken processing plant.
About the human condition
Attaway divides his time between writing serious plays — “Columbus Day,” “Worth” — and material such as “Chainsaw” that is primarily for laughs.
“Most of my plays, even the funny ones, deal with some element of the human condition,” Attaway said. “And for me the question was at what point does someone get so crazy that they start killing people with a chainsaw?”
The show, directed by Missy Koonce, is the saga of young Joey Delaney, who was born a full-grown man. Growing up with an abusive father, an absent mother and mean stepmother sends Joey down a dark path. Eventually he is imprisoned, where his personality continues to deteriorate, and upon his release he becomes a sort of monster on the prowl.
“Chainsaw” features one of the bigger Living Room casts: Shon Ruffin, Rebecca Munoz, Bryan LaFave, Kelsea McLean, Bob Linebarger, Mike Ott, Laura Jacobs, Daria LeGrand, Cam Burns, Caleb Tracy, Katie Gilchrist, Natalie Liccardello, Sebastian Smith and Bradley J. Thomas
In the band are Sean Hogge (bass), Ben Byard (drums) and Mark Johnson (keyboards).
Redding is an assistant professor of music at Alaska Pacific University. Attaway said he’s known Redding for 15 years. Attaway said he traveled to Anchorage, where he and Redding wrote the first act in two weeks. Attaway conceded that originally he envisioned a stage adaptation of the classic low-budget horror flick. But as they worked on it, the material took him in a different direction.
“It’s one of those cases where the characters start telling you where the story is going,” Attaway said. “When we say ‘loosely inspired,’ I mean as loosely as possible. The whole thing is very blue and very irreverent. I’m trying to talk Missy and Eric into cutting about 75 percent of the curse words because it sounds like a 15-year-old boy wrote it.”
Lots of flying, not much gore
Megee said he was inspired to do “Poultry-geist” one day as he sat in his backyard watching his chickens. He said Dressler quickly agreed that it would make the ideal Halloween show.
“That is accurate,” Megee said. “We wanted to make a terrifying, campy Halloween show. And we have done it. We have lots of flying but not much gore.”
The cast includes Dressler, Megee, Widow Von Du, Ashley Otis and Shannon Michalski. Megee said he and Dressler were already at work on a Halloween show for next year.
“The bar wants us to always have a Halloween story,” Megee said. “So next year we’re doing ‘Amytiville Horror Story.’ I get to play Jessica Lange and Pinhead.”