ALTHOUGH IT HAS possibly the worst title of any play, ever, Dr. Horrible’s Sing–along Blog is amusing, poignant and has a score of some really wonderful songs.
The melodic music is reminiscent of Rent (seriously!) in that the characters sing as exposition, to propel the story. Often, characters in different scenes sing at the same time, in harmony and counterpoint, tying things together in a unique way.
Dr. Horrible was written by Joss Whedon (creator of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) and his writer siblings Zack and Jed. Starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion (Waitress, Castle), it was produced like a TV series during the Writers Guild of America strike in 2008 – exclusively for the Internet, where it appeared as three 15–minute segments.
Since then, it’s achieved gold–medal cult status (there’s a DVD available) and has been adapted into the very stage play that Savannah’s Odd Lot improv troupe brings to Muse Arts Warehouse over the next two weekends.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing–along Blog is the story of an aspiring mad scientist who longs to become part of the Evil League of Evil (ELE), but his obsession with a cute girl he meets at the laundromat keeps slowing him down. In the filmed version, Harris is Horrible; Fillion plays Captain Hammer, the good doctor’s narcissistic arch–enemy.
That’s right, it’s a superhero musical comedy.
“It’s not like a ‘let’s all watch this and make fun of it because it’s so bad’ kind of cult following,” says Odd Lotter Justin Kent, who has the title role at Muse. “It’s a ‘this is amazing and I can’t get enough of it’ kind of cult following.”
Everyone in the cast, Kent explains, is a die–hard Horrible fan. “I love that it was written not to make a lot of money, but just because the Wheedons wanted to do it,” he says. “They wrote it, loved it, and made it. A true labor of love. When someone makes something like that, just because they think it would be awesome, well then, it usually is.
“And that’s why we’re doing it, too. Because we love it. Because it’s fun. And, for me personally, I also like to have a legitimate reason to dress like a super–villain. The lab coat I wear is so cool.”
Although Dr. Horrible (aka Billy) often addresses the camera (it’s an online video blog, you see), much of the action – and we do mean action – happens on city streets, at the mayor’s office, and in the Laundromat where Horrible clumsily attempts to sweet–talk Penny, the clothes–washing love of his life.
Christopher Soucy is directing the show, which also features Lynita Spivey as Penny, Matt Faford as Captain Hammer, and Gabe Reynolds as Moist, Dr. Horrible’s under–achieving sidekick.
Ginny Willis, Megan Jones, Thomas Houston, Andy Hernandez, Ryan Long and Yosef Shuman comprise the rest of the cast.
“We’re being pretty creative with this,” says Kent, who played Ralphie in last year’s Muse production of A Christmas Story (that cast included Soucy, Spivey and most of the other Odd Lot company members).
“Chris is very good at figuring out new and different ways of making things work. And we’ve all got some theater experience behind us, and know some tricks. We’ve got our own spin on it. I don’t want to give too much away.”
As with the Odd Lot evenings, there will be lots of audience participation during Dr. Horrible’s Sing–along Blog. “The audience,” Kent enthuses, “will be playing a significant part in the show.
“Everyone is brilliant, of course. We have a hard time keeping a straight face in rehearsal. There have been numerous times where we can’t move on, because I’m laughing too hard. I’ll get that under control for the performances, though. Maybe.”
Dr. Horrible’s Sing–along Blog
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703D Louisville Road
When: At 8 p.m. Oct. 6, 7, 8, 13, 15; additional show at midnight Oct. 8
Preceded by an improv performance by the Odd Lot
Tickets: $15. Come dressed as a hero or villain and get in for $10