Friday, May 23, 2014

'Stage Fright' Hits Some High Notes

Theater geeks will be the first to tell you that when they do a show, they put their blood, sweat and tears into every moment of the production.  They devote days, hours, and weeks just for a short run of performances, or, in some cases, to a lone precious weekend.  When it comes to Stage Fright, you can keep the sweat and the tears, because it just wants to have a bloody good time.  Very bloody.  

In the prologue, Kylie (Minnie Driver) has just finished the opening performance of The Haunting of the Opera, an obvious knockoff of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, complete with masked killer.  Her kids, Camilla and Buddy, are very proud.  Camilla walks out alone onto the stage and a theater itch is born!  Meanwhile, Kylie is brutally murdered in her dressing room by someone sporting the same outfit the killer wears in the show.  

Flash forward ten years, and Camilla and Buddy work at Center Stage, a performing arts summer camp headed by their guardian (and Kylie's former flame) Roger McCall.  Roger is played by Meat Loaf.  Yes, it's getting good.  Camilla has the desire to audition for the upcoming main stage show, but Buddy doesn't think it's worth her time.  In a little twist of fate, The Haunting of the Opera will be revived, an announcement that only fuel's Camilla's desires to play the same role as her mother.  

From the beginning, we are treated to musical numbers.  Really cheesy musical numbers.  Upon arriving at Center Stage, the campers unload from the bus and sing about being able to be who they truly are.  There's the bitchy diva and the guy denying his sexuality.  If you've indulged yourself in a local production of South Pacific, you'll laugh your ass off.  It's kind of like Camp with an annoying, flouncing wink to it. 

Camilla lands the part, but has to share it with the resident leading lady, Liz.  The arrogant director, Artie, has set Haunting in feudal Japan, but won't announce who will play the lead on opening night for all of the Broadway producers.  Do Broadway producers really do that, by the way?  Do they really go to a musical theater camp and cast talent in a two-bit show?  

The Haunting of the Opera is ridiculous.  It's a blatant rip-off of Phantom, and it's kind of glorious in that regard.  Neither Camilla or Liz are particularly talented (those high notes made me wince a little bit), but all the more reason to slice and dice, right?  Opera ghost runs around the camp slaughtering people with razored paint can lids and he uses the set to his advantage by dropping lights on one unlucky fellow.  

Stage Fright could actually stand to be campier.  The songs die down after a while, and the killings are all that original.  But who cares.  It's a musical slaughter fest.  Break a leg.  

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