ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and runs through May 29. This year the nearly three-week long festival will feature the largest line-up of shows in its history.
And this year there’s one show promising to be a real Turkey — literally.
Following successful tours in Seattle, New York Columbus and Atlanta, Orlando is the next stop for “ThanksKilling The Musical,” a production that features music by Jeff Thomson and lyrics by Jordan Mann. Adapted from the cult film by Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart, “ThanksKilling” is about five college kids headed home for Thanksgiving break who cross paths with – well, a homicidal turkey. Makes sense, right?
The turkey, as it turns out, has been possessed by an ancient Indian curse, and the teens need to figure out a way to stop the homicidal bird before it kills them all.
Produced by JMEG Theatrical, and direct by Meghan Marsh, the 60 minute show features a cast that includes Kit Cleto, Fredy Ruiz, Matt Rothenberg, Ale Martinez, Blake Heinricks, Kayla Alvarez, Jeffrey Sadecky, Rachel Whittington, and Johnnie Maier. There’s even some drinking games along the way.
Always intrigued by killer turkey musicals, Freeline Media reached out to David Eck, the show’s creator, and co-producers Eddie Gomez and Johnnie Maier to get more details on this one.
Freeline Media: Woody Allen once made a movie featuring a giant breast terrorizing the countryside, so i guess a homicidal turkey is cool too.
Turkey Team: Did someone say breast? Oh yes … about a 4K with X cup … Much like Turkie it is one of those things you ask yourself, why am I watching this? But you can’t stop watching. Suddenly you get so enthralled that you think it is possible for a giant breast — or in this case, a giant turkey — killing and running amok.
FM: Musicals about manic birds sound quite unique. Tell us more about how this show got created.
Turkeys: David Eck (co-conceiver) and Jeff Thomson (composer) were discussing their fondness for horror movies, bad horror movies, how the formula of a true horror movie musical hasn’t worked, and in what way could it work. If it could work, it’d have to be a parody in the style of something like “Evil Dead the Musical” and be very self aware. The title ThanksKilling came up and and it was too crazy of an idea not to pursue. They were able to track down Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart, creators of the film, and after obtaining their permission, wrote the show in three days. Because why would you spend more than three days writing a show, when the original film cost less than $3,000 to produce.
FM: Does camp work well, do you think, in horror musicals?
Turkeys: Camp wasn’t the norm for a musical and perhaps still isn’t, so I believe it works very well in horror themes. Yes it is cheesy, and goes well in today’s postmodern views in culture. However, you see a lot of horror movie musicals attempt to take themselves very seriously and they do not fare as well with the general public. Take “Carrie the Musical,” or “Dracula.” Yes, they have wonderful moments, but overall, the audience did not take well to those shows. I think being campy works extremely well for this show because how else would an audience receive a giant necromancer killer turkey? Additionally, the campy nature of this show is what has led to the actors having a good time with the material. We have yet to make it through an entire rehearsal without laughing out loud.
FM: I need to know more about the drinking games.
Turkeys: The drinking games are my personal favorite … back to the campy style we have going …. the show makes fun of itself. As a horror show there are cliches that are emphasized and literally celebrated by taking a shot … for instance and as explained by the drinking game host — yes we have a host — we break the fourth wall and engage in the horror cliche drinking game. “Every time we encounter a horror cliche, you all have to take a drink … capiche?” It is a celebration in being self aware!
FM: After Fringe, is the turkey heading out on the road?
Turkeys: The future of “ThanksKilling The Musical” is uncertain, though we would all like to see a life of this production beyond Fringe. If you have a large sum of cash or a fist full of dollars and would like to finance a touring production of “ThanksKilling,” please contact us and we’ll be happy to make that happen. The show is available for licensing at Thankskilling The Musical.
“ThanksKilling The Musical” is being performed at the Silver Venue at the Orlando Repertory Theater on the following dates:
* Thursday May 18 at 8:45 p.m.
* Saturday May 20 at 10:30 p.m.
* Monday May 22 at 10:45 p.m.
* Thursday May 25 at 9 p.m.
* Sunday May 28 at 10:30 p.m.
For tickets visit Orlando Fringe.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..