The show began with a narrated introduction in darkness, with every 'massacre' being replaced with a gleeful 'Musical!'. Establishing a humor that would be present throughout, a single light shone on an armadillo. The five victims are carelessly cruising the rurals of Texas, singing about the amazing heat. Trouble begins with the picking up of a strange hitchhiker.
The van carrying the teenagers runs out of gas and strands them. The group splits up to look for help and each end up finding the house in the woods. One by one the maniacal Leatherface picks off the kids. The only survivor is Sally, but not before she gets to meet the family of the house, comprised of Leatherface, the hitchhiker, a gas station attendant met earlier, and 'grandpa'.
There were wonderful performances by all, and I especially enjoyed the playfully comic Franklin (Adam Rosowicz). I was also amused by Guy Schingoethe's vocalizing of Leatherface grunts and yelps. I was a bit worried when he shouted, “please don't run!” and stops chasing Sally to sing a ridiculous plea of how he doesn't really mean to kill, that “these things just happen!” Fortunately, Sally doesn't buy it, and I was relieved that this didn't turn into a love story (not that that wouldn't be hilarious, but would really bring the horror aspect and remaining story to a halt).
A few of my favorite parts of the show would be the Texas heat song at the beginning and the song near the end, inspired by Tool's 'Sober' (band name fitting for Leatherface's weapon of choice). Other moments include a ripping drum solo from grandpa, the percussioned way they depicted the scene of trying to get him to hit Sally, and the hitchhiker getting killed by a car smaller than he is.
The audience definitely had a blast. I did find the show funny but others were laughing a lot more often, perhaps due to references from the movie that maybe I didn't catch. Unfortunately, the show I attended was the last, but I do look forward to New Millenium Theatre's creation of the 1977 David Bowie Christmas special. That's something else that would normally seem impossible, but after seeing the Texas Chainsaw Musical, it's something I definitely look forward to.
Upcoming New Millenium show:
What: The David Bowie Hepzikat Funky Velvet Flarney Solstice Spectacular, Live... From Space! (David Bowie's Christmas Special 1977 network edit)
When: Fridays and Saturdays, November 21 through December 27, 2008 10:30 pm
Where: National Pastime Theater 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60614
Tickets: $15 General Admission 312-458-9083 or Website (www.nmtchicago.org)