By: MR Anderson
The movie-macabre has come, by way of the musical. Originally presented by the New York Theatre Barn, Monster Makers: A New Musical in Concert rises from the grave for one night at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Monster Makers tells a trio of stories, all of which are inspired by true, behind-the-scenes events of the making of the greatest monster movies in cinematic history. From blood-thirsty Nosferatu, to Frankenstein’s monster of fame, to actor Peter Cushing’s quest toward the final sequels to the Frankenstein and Dracula series; this triple-feature takes a uniquely individual trip through filmic horror lore.
Stephen Dolginoff (Book, Music, and Lyrics) acts as emcee and actor, setting the stage and donning over three separate characters. True to form, Dolginoff wears all these hats with adroit aplomb. Though his touch is seen everywhere, the frequency with which he involves himself so completely has given him the experience and ability to blend with the cast as a whole.
Playing the show’s directors, Russell Fischer is a treat. He displays a great bravado in numbers like “Sacrifice My Vision.” Leo Ash Evans portrays various men from the scenes, and he exhibits grace and flexibility. “Creating A Monster” is especially fun. The women of fame are performed by Camille Diamond; hers are women of tenacity and exciting bite. In collaboration with Bernard J. Solomon’s (Director) tight staging and Zachary Orts’s (Music Director; Piano) quick fingers, the hobbyist’s guilty pleasure genre becomes the professional’s concert production.
The music is quite varied for the relatively short length. While “The Night We Filmed Your Death” and “Never Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good” are undeniably Dolginoff in their haunting melodies and fast-flowing lyrics, little surprises like “I Want It My Way” and “Horror Fan” round out the final sound in a tasteful way.
For the encore, the three swings of the concert were offered the stage. Ryan Lind, Rebecca Sonia, and Jordan Zauha performed an additional rendition of “Creating a Monster” in what can only be seen as incredibly good form on part of the show’s producers. Dream Theater Productions (Producer), provides this, and more commendable opportunities for their non-union actors. Visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/837856650/dream-theater-productions-fundraising-campaign to check out their current Kickstarter campaign.
Intelligent and uplifting, Monster Makers: A New Musical in Concert is worth the ticket to ride. Though the material lends itself well to the concert format, I’d relish a fully-staged production. Keep an eye out for Monster Makers, after all, Halloween is right around the corner.
Monster Makers: A New Musical in Concert performed on September 3 @ 7pm at Feinstein’s/54Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). For reservations and information, call 646-476-3551 or visit www.54Below.com