Earlier this summer horror fans got to see one of their favorite sub-genres, the slasher, come to life on the stage at the Hollywood Fringe Fest in the form of SLASHED: THE MUSICAL.The 1980’s set stage production featured terrific cast performances, clever effects, a razor sharp script, and a killer soundtrack that you can check out HERE!
The musical played to sold out shows throughout its all-too-brief run at the festival but for those of you who missed it we have great news. The cast will return to the stage at Midsummer Scream for an in concert performance of the show!
Find links to get tickets at the bottom of the page and check out our interview with the monstrous minds behind Slashed: The Musical, director Chelsea Stardust (CS) and book, music, and lyrics writer Sean Keller (SK) to learn how this awesome production came to be.
Where did the idea for Slashed come from?
SK: I had actually been thinking about writing a slasher musical for a while. At Hollywood Fringe Festival 2016 I went to see Robot Teammate's show TURBULENCE and was blown away by the compact story-telling they pulled off. After that show I started to see the structure of Slashed! The Musical take shape.
The musical draws from 80’s slashers. Were there specific films within that genre that you pulled from? And if so what spoke to you about those films?
SK: This is probably going to sound strange, but the Slasher sub-genre was never really my favorite, so I felt free to play around with it. Somehow it felt like less pressure that way. But as I dug deeper and gave these films a second look, the genre really rose in my estimation and I found it important to show my newfound love for these films in the most overt way. And Slashers are Chelsea's favorite so her love infected what I was doing and together we wanted to incorporate references to FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE BURNING, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, HALLOWEEN, CHEERLEADER CAMP and SCREAM.
Was there anything outside of slashers that inspired you?
SK: Oh yes! We have a lot of other references in the show (film and otherwise) which include WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, PRETTY IN PINK, SIXTEEN CANDLES, SAY ANYTHING, MEATBALLS, THREE'S COMPANY, FOOTLOOSE, RENT and HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH to name a few.
Take us through the process of writing the musical. Did you have an idea for what the songs would be when breaking the story? Did they manifest through the writing process?
SK: I wrote an outline that was all about what bits of story needed to be expressed in song. I came up with temporary song titles (many of which remain unchanged) and what the general musical styles, the gist of the lyrics and if there were any theatrical beats I could insert into the songs. A horror musical needs songs in which characters die, so that was always a consideration. But coming up with a song title is a lot easier than sitting down with my acoustic guitar and banging out tunes. I settled on the 80's concept of a "lost musical" written by The Cars. It was a guiding light for the musical style and I added some Pat Benitar and Souxsie as well.
What unique challenges did this project present to you that you hadn’t experienced in previous creative endeavors?
SK: I had been a songwriter and actor and screenwriter, but telling stories through lyrics with repeating musical motifs not to mention writing for the female range were all particularly challenging. But the hardest part was taking on the role of Music Director and having to teach my songs to a cast. I don't read or write music, so there are no charts to follow so I did the only thing I could think of. I recruited the help of my far more talented son, Folsom and recorded a soundtrack album. I sang every part and played every instrument and then brought in the actors to swap out lines. It worked better than I had hoped and the actors learned their songs before the first rehearsal.
The cast includes a number of actors Chelsea has worked with in the past. Were rolls specifically written for them?
CS: Yes! The part of LOONEY LUCY was specifically written for Fayna Sanchez and same goes for the role of JOYCE, which was written with Elissa Wagner in mind.
Did you build the cast around specific actors or did you approach putting the ensemble together more globally?
CS: We knew off the bat we wanted Elissa and Fayna. I also knew I wanted to cast Clarke in a role as well. Aside from that, we actually got a lot of recommendations from friends. We held two audition sessions and also let folks self-tape and we gathered our cast from that. Everyone we ended up casting was either someone we knew or someone a friend recommended.
Was there anything that surprised you during the casting process? A person’s voice hitting a range you weren’t expecting, or an audition from an actor that made you rethink your approach to casting a certain a role?
CS: You know, we actually knew the moment someone auditioned if they were right for one of the roles. We literally knew immediately. We just crossed our fingers that everyone we offered the roles to could do the show! We were lucky and were able to cast everyone we wanted to.
How long did you have to rehearse?
CS: We had roughly one month, which ended up being 8 full rehearsals and 3 choreography days. We had about 10 schedules to coordinate with but our cast was incredibly flexible and made it work!
Were their any discoveries that were made in rehearsals that changed scenes or your approach to them?
CS: Yes! We actually came up with a lot of the gags in the show during rehearsals. I'm a big fan of collaborating with talent to ensure you get the best performance possible--AND I want everyone to have fun too. Working with the actors was a ton of fun and together we came up with a lot of great moments that weren't physically written into the show.
The look of the killer’s mask is really cool. How did the design come about?
CS: Our mask was designed by Sam Randazzo, who also designed our logo and stickers. We sent him a handful of references that Sean and I loved and he came up with the design. It was realized by our Production Designer, Dani Manning. She made the mask from scratch out of sticks, twigs and twine. She did a fantastic job!
Were there audience reactions to particular scenes or lines that you weren’t expecting. If so, what were they?
CS: You hope that your audience "gets" all your jokes and references and every night the audience is different, but there were always things that got BIG laughs every night. When Looney Lucy comes out at the very beginning of the show, there is a line that needs a response from the audience. The first two nights I asked friends in the audience to respond because I was nervous the response wouldn't happen. But on the third night I actually forgot to have a "plant" but the audience ended up responding exactly how we needed them to, and then some. Which was awesome! Honestly I'm really pleased with the audience reactions. And it was so different every night. We had some really obscure references, but when the die-hard horror fans knew them they always got a laugh.
How did the show grow or change from preview night to the last show?
CS: We were incredibly lucky--we had a fantastic preview. After that it was just a matter of tightening lines, adjusting lighting, pausing for applause and making sure all of the gags worked. Since you don't really know when or how long the audience is going to applaud, you have to adjust for that after the first show.
Has your experience with Slashed changed the way you are going to approach projects in the future? And if so how?
CS: You know, at first I approached the directing aspect of SLASHED! the same way I direct film. I quickly realized theatre and film have their similarities but are also VERY different. I'm actually not a fan of doing rehearsals when I'm directing a film piece (unless heavy stunts or choreography are needed) and obviously with theatre rehearsals are necessary. So that was something I had to adjust to. Also, with theatre, it's sort of like a huge one-shot, and you just have to hope it goes as planned. You really have to let go of the control you have as a director. You have to trust your cast and your lighting & sound technician and your stage manager. Overall I loved the experience and having an incredible cast and crew helped make that happen.
Are there future plans for Slashed?
Why yes! We will be performing at MIDSUMMER SCREAM on Sunday July 30th, though we are still ironing out the details. We do have some other things cooking, but can't spill the pig's blood just yet! Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for future announcements!
The in concert performance of Slashed: The Musical takes place this Sunday at Midsummer Scream.
Tickets for Midsummer Screen can be bought here: https://creepylaproductions.ticketspice.com/midsummer-scream-2017
Keep up with all of Slashed: The Musical by following the links below:
Slashed: The Musical
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