Theater Review: ‘Exorcistic’ Is the Unauthorized Parody You’ve Been Praying For

Kevin Taft reviews Exorcistic, a hilarious, unauthorized rock musical parody that delivers fun songs and tons of laughs.
User Rating: 9

Photo Credits: Nathan Noyes

Just when you thought there were no more “unauthorized parodies” left to see, along comes arguably the best one yet!

Exorcistic: The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody has been making heads spin since its debut in 2013, where it won Best Musical at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. And lucky for us, it’s back for a 5-week run at The Three Clubs bar in Hollywood. With some spectacular talent on stage, this hilarious send-up of the classic film is not only incredibly funny but also masterfully scored and written by Ovation Award winner Michael Shaw Fisher.

Photo Credits: Nathan Noyes

Set on a small stage inside The Three Clubs venue, “Exorcistic” is set up as a “read through” of a new musical based on the 50-year-old horror classic “The Exorcist.” We have Emma Hunton playing herself as the actress who is starring as the 12-year-old soon-to-be-possessed “Megan O’Neill.” (The names have all been slightly changed for parody’s sake.)  Leigh Wulff is her desperate mother, Kate O’Neill. Frankie J. Grande is the flashy demon Captain “Rowdy,” our questioning priest Father Garras is played by Brian Logan Dales, his mentor Father Barren is brought to life by Jesse Merlin, Gabby Sanalitro is the disgruntled stage manager, and the show’s actual writer Fisher plays, well, the fictional show’s writer as well as various other characters.

All seems to be status-quo chaotic for a new production having a rehearsal, but it goes from not-so-great to pretty bad when actress Hunton actually gets possessed and kills one of her scene partners. From there on, it’s the actor’s possession mixed with the character’s possession, all set to an original rock musical score. With songs like “You’re C***ing Daughter” (a bluesy number sung by the now possessed Hunton), Wulff’s duet “Movie Star with a F***d-Up Kid,” and the exorcism rocker “Your Mother S*** C***s in Hell,” this is one goofy show. But it works in spades.

See Also: THEATER REVIEW: ‘THE EMPIRE STRIPS BACK’ IS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

Photo Credits: Nathan Noyes

Three things, in particular, make this show so successful. The first is the book by Fisher. While it might sound a little complicated, it expertly navigates the metaplots smoothly and cleverly. Throughout, Fisher has sprinkled asides about the movie’s original production and easter egg gags like Ellen Burstyn’s famously long telephone cord and Regan’s infamously long pee in front of her mother’s guests. Even more so, the structure is smart, and the dialogue is sharp and hysterical.

Next is the cast led by Hunton (of Freeform’s “Good Trouble”). Not only is she fearless in her snarling, shockingly funny, oftentimes vulgar performance, but her voice is to die for. It’s easy to understand why she’s been a staple in LA (“Edward Scissorhands”) and New York (“Wicked”) for years. She’s truly fantastic. Wulff also makes an impression, taking Burstyn’s Oscar-winning performance and putting her own “spin” on it. She, too, has a fantastic voice and is someone I’ll actively look to see what she’s up to next. Grande (“Titanique”) is as over-the-top as ever, which works well in such a silly show, but he also impresses with his vocals and really going for the throat as the demon after poor Megan. The rest of the cast? Well, there isn’t a clunker in the bunch. They are all at the top of their game here, and every single one of them is fun to watch.

Photo Credits: Nathan Noyes

Lastly, the songs are pretty terrific. Musicals are made or broken by their music, and with smaller parody shows, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. This is one of those LA finds you know will be a cult classic. The songs are wittily written, and the music is catchy. (The soundtrack is available on iTunes and Spotify.)

Add in fun direction (by Chadd McMillan and Alli Miller-Fisher) and an intimate theater space, and you really become a part of it all. This is one of the best times you’ll have in LA this summer! I laughed myself silly all night and can’t wait to bring back my friends.

Do yourself a favor and get possessed this summer at “Exorcistic.” I promise you won’t puke, but you may just bust a gut laughing.

“Exorcistic” is now playing at The Three Clubs, 1123 Vine Street, LA.
It runs every Friday and Saturday at 8 pm through July 22.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased in advance at: https://exorcisticmusical.eventbrite.com

9
Amazing
Written by
Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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