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.
Making a return this year to Fringe is John B deHaas, a name likely to be very familiar to longtime Fringe fans. A multi-talented artist, John has been producing Fringe shows since 2003 and he created the book, music, and lyrics for shows like “Theme Park Diva,” “Tappin’ and Yappin’,” and “Just This Once,” which won Best Original Score at the 2015 Orlando Fringe.
This year, John is back with a tribute to one of the classic horror films, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 movie “Psycho.” But his show plans to take a rather unique look back at the movie starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the killer with a mama complex.
John’s show is called “Psycho Mode,” and he calls it a “mash up of Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece ‘Psycho’ set to the music of 80’s new wave band Depeche Mode.”
The cast of “Psycho Mode” includes Peter Heid, Jessica Hope, Shea Rafferty, Allyssa Yost, and Fringe veterans Joe Swanberg and Holland Hayes, while John serves as the musical director and performs live piano in the show, which was directed by Chris Yakubchik.
Freeline Media was sufficiently intrigued that we couldn’t resist asking John to tell us more about his show.
Freeline Media: I’ve been a huge fan of the movie “Psycho” for decades. How about you? When did you discover this tasty treat?
John B. deHaas: I actually first saw “Psycho” when I was in high school. They had a double feature horror movie night, and I remember not knowing much about the film. I also remember they used the posters to advertise it at my school. But since this was a Catholic high school, some of the nuns decided to cut out the Janet Leigh character from the poster since she was wearing a bra and replaced it with “CENSORED.” Ridiculous, but this was 1980!
FM: Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and 80s techno music? Do tell!
John: Since college, I have always loved Depeche Mode. A few years ago, the idea came to me to mash up the two projects. I think it is a perfect fit since Norman Bates is pretty much a goth-like character, and Depeche Mode’s music has been described as dark and goth. I feel it’s a perfect match.
FM: Does this show incorporate dialogue from the movie, or is it more like an MTV video done live?
John: I utilized the screenplay from the film and adapted it to fit the stage. I ended up cutting out some scenes and dialogue for time, but it stays pretty true to the original film. All of the dialogue and singing is done live.
FM: If someone is not familiar with the movie “Psycho” (and there has to be some of them out there), what can they expect in lieu of an introduction at your show?
John: Although “Psycho” was considered the first slasher film, I feel it is so much more than just “the shower scene.” All of the characters are complex and flawed, and everyone has his or her own demon to deal with. Hopefully the audience will understand and embrace the melding of the two styles of entertainment.
FM: Any plans to take this show out on the road after Fringe?
John: Since I am dealing with the film rights of Hitchcock and the music rights of Depeche Mode, I would need a producer and lawyer to secure any necessary copyright issues before taking it beyond the Fringe.
“Psycho Mode” will be performed in the Gold Venue on the following dates:
* Thursday, May 18 at 10:45 p.m.
* Saturday, May 20 at 6:45 p.m.
* Sunday, May 21 at 2:45 p.m.
* Wednesday, May 24 at 6:45 p.m.
* Thursday, May 25 at 10:15 p.m.
* Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m.
* Sunday, May 28 at 8:45 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..