In the trailer for his 1963 thriller, “The Birds,” Alfred Hitchcock sarcastically refers to the turkey as “traditionally our guest of honor at Thanksgiving.”
Balagan Theatre’s unexpected charmer, “ThanksKilling: The Musical,” which had its world premiere over the weekend at the Cornish Playhouse Studio at Seattle Center, imagines what it might be like if the turkey took revenge. Especially if the turkey had spent a lot of time watching and taking pointers from “Halloween,” the “Friday the 13th” series and various versions of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
With music by Jeff Thomson and lyrics by Jordan Mann, and based on a same-titled cult movie, “ThanksKilling” includes a drinking game built around horror-film clichés. Toss back a whiskey shot for each scene in which a soon-to-be victim says something like “I”ll be right back.” If you survive to the next scene, you may end up sloshing through lines like “I drink better than I drive.”
Thanksgiving break is one long party for five students whose car breaks down. When they set up camp and sleeping arrangements, they get picked off one by one by a homicidal turkey who follows the stereotypical horror-movie pattern by attacking the “slutty girl” first.
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An adorable cast, tightly directed by Douglas Willott, somehow makes the potty-mouth material seem almost wholesome. The opening number, “No Refunds,” establishes and accepts the raunchiness and suggests the door to anyone who protests. Lindsey Larson delivers a showstopping number as the proudly promiscuous Ali, while Kody Bringman makes it all look easy as Johnny, the group’s jock-ish leader.
Most surprising is the inclusion of two very different closet cases who have fallen in love with each other. Their big number, “Man Love,” gets a reprise, and they’re presented as a couple at the curtain call. Evan Hildebrand, as the nerdy Darren, and Evan Woltz, as Billy, a big boy with large appetites, passionately celebrate their unlikely but convincing union.
The moral of the show, stated at the end: “Be thankful you’re not dead.”
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org