By Brian Scott Lipton . . .

There are thrills and chills to be had at Chelsea Table + Stage where IT: A Musical Parody has landed for a sadly limited run, but they’re not the kind you might expect from an adaptation of scaremeister Stephen King’s 1100+ page novel about the inhabitants of a small town in Maine being terrorized by a clever yet evil clown who lures children to their deaths.

Instead of ear-piercing screams. squeals of joy (and some louder noises) pervade the room as a super-talented cast of eight performers work their way through John Flynn’s supremely silly and often profane script. More importantly, they give their impressive all to a selection of pop music’s biggest hits of the past 50 years, ranging from Styx’s “Come Sail Away” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” One Direction’s “Story of My Life” and Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason.”

If you are one of the few people who never read King’s book or seen either of its movie version or the 1990 miniseries, fear not. Flynn’s wisecracking script barely skims the surface of the novel’s plot, so that anyone can follow the goings-on. All you really need to know is that the show takes place in two time periods (here, like in the film, updated to 1989 and 2016), where a group of seven “loser” friends – first 11-year-olds, then 38-year-olds — band together to “kill” the malicious Pennywise.

Bedecked in a convincing clown makeup and a slightly steampunk costume (both by Chadd McMillan), former Disney Channel heartthrob Garrett Clayton magnificently captures Pennywise’s malevolence and snark; in other circumstances, he could make you cower. A remarkably athletic dancer and versatile vocalist, Clayton makes a three-course meal out of all his musical moments, but none more so than a quasi-operatic rendition of German pop band Nena’s “99 Luftbaloons.” (If you know the novel, the choice of this song may not totally surprise you).

Flynn has essentially reduced each of the seven friends to one key trait – usually, their least flattering. Luckily, the actors are not just in on the joke but embrace even the nastiest material in a bear hug. Special kudos go to the charismatic Sterling Suleiman, the group’s best dancer, who is wonderful as stuttering writer Bill, E.K Dangefield, who is suitably creepy as the gay sex-obsessed Richie, and Gwen Hollander, who is hilariously sardonic as Beverly, the only girl in the group.

Meanwhile, the class’s gold star goes to Janaya Maheatani Jones, who marvelously doubles as the ultra-nerdy Stanley Uris and the town bully, Henry Bowers. She is not only very funny, but consistently serves up amazingly powerful vocals, especially with her incredible take on Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” which benefits from Mallory Butcher’s spot-on choreography and Nathan Moore’s fleet-footed direction.

Yep, “Bad” is so good. But it’s just one highlight in two hours of campy fun. Simply put, IT has “it”!

IT: A Musical Parody continues at Chelsea Table + Stage (152 West 26th Street) through October 31. For tickets and information, visit

Photos: Bryan Carpenter