They’ll make anything into a musical these days. Well, not just anything. Any movie gets a musical these days. If all future movie-based musicals are half as clever as The Snuff Musical, then we might be in good shape.
This is a self-aware and biting satire about the perceived current state of musical theatre, and the lengths people will go to achieve artistic success. Daniel Hawthorne (Josh Kemper) and Joey Bortz (Amanda Spellman) are a musical producing team whose creative output has all but dried up. After constantly striking out while trying to pitch the last musical he did write (“History is boring!” potential investors say), Daniel is unexpectedly inspired by a nasty little snuff film screened at a pretentious art party. Daniel is convinced this will be the last word on movie-based musicals. Joey is skeptical, but is desperate to make the show a hit. I don’t want to give away too much else, but The Snuff Musical gleefully rips backstage tropes apart, like the small-town ingénue moving to the Big City to be a star and Eve Harrington-esque role sabotage. The plot, as it unfolds, gets a little convoluted and confusing by the end, but I enjoyed myself every step of the way.
None of the characters stretch past two dimensions (if that), but they don’t particularly have to. Kemper and Spellman are great at playing put-upon struggling artists, forced to be the straight men in a world of batshit crazy. The snark at all the weirdos who come through their door, including Senor Dread (PJ Mitchell), the creepy but hilariously enthusiastic death fetishist who directed the original film, and Kelly Kincaid (Leslie Vincent), whose absolute lack of talent is eclipsed by her unshakeable confidence. As the budding starlet from Ohio, Vincent effectively steals the show in her quest to be a leading lady. The Snuff Musical is worth seeing just for Kelly’s masterful butchering of Shakespeare.
Michael Martin’s score had a pretty decent Broadway pop sound. Particular highlights are “Another Boy Meets Girl,” a hilariously glib account of the snuff film’s three minute running time, and Vincent’s introduction, “Kelly’s Big Pair (Of Songs).” Each cast member was a first-rate singer, and made sure that the punch lines were never lost under the music. As a lyricist and playwright, Martin exercised a wickedly funny sensibility. A master of double entendre and suggestion, he piles layers and layers of jokes in songs like “Get It In The End” and Kelly’s phone calls to her pedophilic uncle.
As the opening numbers says, The Snuff Musical is the “best possible worst kind of taste.” And I like it!
Running Time: 90 minutes.