I caught a performance of the Overtime Theater’s production of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die: A New Musical this weekend and it was a very fun show. Funny and sexy, the show delivered a rollicking good time with genuine laughs from the audience and a sense of awe at the the talent gathered for this production.
One cannot help drawing a comparison to another bad cult horror film turned musical, Little Shop of Horrors. Like The Overtime’s Brain, Little Shop of Horrors started life as a cheesy 1960 B&W comedy/horror film (by schlock legend Roger Corman) that was later turned into an off-Broadway musical. The original The Brain That Wouldn’t Die was filmed in 1959, but its comedic value was unintentional. The movie was so bad that one could not help but laugh.
Clearly the mad men at the Overtime did more than laugh, they saw the germ of a new production. Jon Gillespie‘s script and lyrics are quite funny and the actors helped tremendously by breathing a lot of life into his words. The music by composer Philip Luna (Fear Snakeface, Shit City Dreamgirls) was generally unobtrusive, but really shined in the SciFi incidental music that lent a 1959 movie atmosphere. Director Michael Burger and Producer Jon Poole tied everything together nicely.
Standouts include Christie Walheim as Jan, the Brain mentioned in the title of the show. Not only does she have a great voice and presence on stage, but that she can maintain such through the majority of the show as a disembodied head is incredible. Robert Jerdee as Dr. Bill Cortner, while not the most stellar vocalist, added a brilliant comedic take to his diabolical “man with the miracle smile”. The scene after the car wreck was a particular highlight with Jerdee lampooning 1950s smoking habits. Jules Vaquera as Doris displayed some powerful pipes and Cary Farrow as Kurt (think Igor without the hump) practically stole the show with this comedic timing and dance moves. The entire ensemble was clearly having fun with the show and this was certainly contagious. Extra props to Roy Thomas whose fall from grace as the title character in Buddha Swings to Dr. Cortner’s father to hamming it up as a cat-fighting drag queen is hilarious.
This show is totally worth seeing. Avoid the front row if you want to stay completely dry, but the advertised “slishy-splashy fun” effects were not so extreme that you’ll need a change of clothes or the plastic sheeting required in a Gallagher show. Tickets are a reasonable $12 ($9 for students and educators). You can purchase soft drinks and brain slices in the lobby and you are welcome to bring your own libations to enjoy with the show. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die: A New Musical runs through October 31st and is something no SciFi fan in San Antonio should miss. This is the kind of production that could really go places!