By Diana McCallum
Years before South Park or Book of Mormon were even a seed of an idea, Trey Parker wrote and directed the now cult classic film, Cannibal! The Musical. The movie was as ridiculous as anything you'd expect to come out of the mind of Trey Parker and was based on the (mostly) true story of Alferd Packer (not a typo), the only person ever convicted of cannibalism in America.
[Trey Parker as Alferd Packer (still not a typo) in the film version of Cannibal! The Musical (Courtesy of Troma Entertainment)]
Cannibal! The Musical, opening in Toronto in February, will be the world premiere of the re-vamped story featuring additional book, lyrics and music by Christopher Bond, Aaron Eyre and Trevor Martin, a team that specializes in the very niche field of bringing horror-comedy-musicals to life on stage. The three previously worked together on the massively successful stage productions Evil Dead the Musical and Night of the Living Dead Live.
The show's director, Christopher Bond, wants fans to know that while adapting Cannibal for the stage they were "sure to stay true to [the original's] campy spirit, while adding more goofs and hilarious songs. It's allowed us to bring something new to the stage that has the same vintage Trey Parker wit."
Trevor Martin, who appears in the show and is one of the co-writers of the revamp, answered some questions for Bleeding Cool that we had about Cannibal! The Musical.
Diana McCallum: Your previous horror-comedy musicals, Evil Dead The Musical and Night of the Living Dead Live, both had distinctive visual features (Evil Dead being the splatter zone and NotLD being the black and white make-up and set). What does Cannibal do differently that people will be talking about?
Trevor Martin: We don't want to give too many secrets away, but I think the challenge of putting the frozen Rocky Mountains and the raging Colorado River on stage have made for some cool visual moments. Also, one of the main characters is Packer's horse, Lianne, so we're going to have fun with that.
DM: In as many or few words as you like, what's the story behind the creation of Cannibal into an on-stage musical?
TM: After the second run of Evil Dead the Musical at the Diesel playhouse in 2008, a bunch of us wanted to find another production that would cater to our recent audience. We had seen a production of Cannibal! years before and thought it would be fun to put it up. We contacted Jason McHugh, (who takes care of the stage rights and played Miller in the film). He liked the idea of us playing with it, and possibly adding more music. We wrote five new songs and adapted the script to be a more structured stage play. Then the Diesel Playhouse closed down, and Jay asked us to take a break because Trey was working on some "Mormon" musical. Nine Tony Awards and several years later, Jason knocked on our door again. We found a fantastic producing partner in Corey Ross at Starvox Entertainment, who loved our adaptation, and a year later, here we are!
DM: How involved has Trey Parker been in the creation of the stage version of Cannibal?
TM: Trey has been updated through Jason McHugh about the show. Jason has been our point man and has been working with us to ensure the show stays within the spirit of the film.
DM: As an actor and writer what's the best part of Cannibal! The Musical?
TM: I think the best part of the show is how fun the music and characters are from the film. We're trying to keep that kind of spirit with the stage show and with the new material. It's really silly and loaded with laughs, the way a lot of comedies from that time could be.
DM: What will the best part of Cannibal! The Musical be for the audience?
TM: I think the soul of the show is how much fun the cast is having on stage. We have a lot of great, talented people in this cast, and during the casting process we made a point of finding people who like to play on stage. That sense of fun is contagious, and you can feel it in the audience.
Trey Parker's Cannibal! The Musical will be on stage at David Mirvish's Panasonic Theatre in Toronto from Feb. 10 to Mar. 8, 2015. Tickets are on sale now and available online at cannibalonstage.com, mirvish.com or by calling 416.872.1212.