What began as a night of drinking and Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque commentary on Stephen King’s The Shining grew into something so much more for New York writer Joe Lovero, who set to work on creating what would become his first musical.
Redrum – which is murder spelled backward, of course – grew from spark, to kindle, to flame as it roared to life and drew to it a fantastic creative team. After putting out an ad on Craigslist to find a composer to help breathe musical life into the prospective show, Joe met Jon, and from there Redrum was born.
The show capitalized on the outlandishly horrific events of The Shining by spinning them into humorous, recurring threads that simultaneously joked and played tribute to the story. From the hilarious malpractice of a doctor who said Danny was just fine, to the potential romance that could have – and should have – happened between Wendy and Dick, each and every beat of the show emphasized the spaces in the story and filled in the details the original film “left out.”
The word “twatwaffle” was also included not once, but twice, which was an impressive feat all on its own.
What Redrum does best is point to the hilarity in horror, and during its Halloween night reading at Feinstein’s/54 Below in the heart of New York City, it hit the mark and left audiences howling with laughter at terrible things.
Marc Kudisch, as the tortured writer Jack Torrance, stole the stage and somehow managed to channel a musical Jack Nicholson as he rapidly fell into the trap of insanity. He and Alice Ripley, who played Wendy Torrance, appeared flawlessly in sync as they sang “Give Me the Bat” right before she knocked him in the head. Tom Deckman, Andre Ward, Max Roll, Brittney Lee Hamilton, Molly Tynes, and Todd Johnson rounded out the witty cast and lent their voices to the tumultuous tale.
However, while everyone played their parts wonderfully and reveled in the dark hilarity of it all, Mark Price and Remy Zaken were a truly standout pair as they played Tony and Danny respectively. Lovero made the right move in bringing Tony to life for the audience, and there could be no more perfect an actor to play a “boy who lives in my mouth” than Mark Price and his endless array of “what did I get myself into?” expressions. Price and Zaken played off of each other perfectly, truly united in their dedication to their characters, and strangely charming throughout it all.
In particular, it was hard not to root for Tony, who in a few simple expressions – often without a single line! – summed up the audience’s reaction to the sordid story of the Torrance family. In this case, Tony was us and we were Tony, all living in Danny’s mouth, wondering how anything that happened in The Shining seemed like a good idea.
After packing out the venue, the audience left with huge grins, and a hope that the show will soldier forward and get picked up for the full Broadway production it deserves.