As a certified connoisseur of campy cult movies, I can confidently claim that the original film Cannibal! The Musical is a complete pile of crap. Though the zero-budget 1993 flick shows a few flickers of the genius that writer-director Trey Parker would fully develop in South Park and Book of Mormon, try as I might I've never been able to make it all the way through his awful freshman effort. So I was pleasantly surprised that director Logan Donahoo (Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Trash Cinema 101) managed to polish this turd into a terrifically entertaining hour of theater, complete with all the gratuitous nudity, slapstick gore and disturbingly sexy livestock you know you come to the Fringe for.
The show recounts the true-life tale of Alfred Packer (Chris Hampton), who in 1874 led a party of miners across the treacherous Colorado Territory, arriving alone and suspiciously well-fed. Packer narrates his travails from a jail cell to news snoop Polly Pry (Monica Rae Andrews), from fording scrotum-freezing streams to being kidnapped by Puerto Rican Native Americans. Of course, all the murder and mayhem is set to absurdly upbeat, if instantly forgettable, songs.
But to hell with the plot; it's just an excuse for Donahoo and company to toss a kitchen sink full of deliriously gonzo sight gags on stage (credit props master Terri Giannoutsos for the brilliant inflatable campfire), more of which hit their mark than miss. It's a shame the some of the unamplified voices have trouble competing with the synthesizer score, swallowing the snarky lyrics. But Donahoo deserves kudos for managing his massive cast well on the moderately sized Goldman stage. I had the pleasure of experiencing Cannibal with a rowdy, well-lubricated late-night audience. I highly suggest you do the same.
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