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.
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.
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.
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.