Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’

Halloween Officially Opens with Thrillpeddlers “Shocktoberfest 14 “

Outstanding 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Halloween season wouldn’t be Halloween with a Thrillpeddlers Shocktoberfest which features enough camp, sexual overtones and awesome makeup and special effects to rival the Castro Street shenanigans. The enthusiastic troupe brings outlandishness to life at Hypnodrome, a cozy little South of Market theatre under the freeway. This year there was no exception although it was a little longer than in prior seasons.

The 14th annual Shocktoberfest program based on Grand Guignol plays were filled with turn of the century horror in London in “Jack the Ripper” , a camp musical version of “Salome” copycat murders of Jack the Ripper in our fair city also during the turn the century and a spanking vignette about of all things spanking.
The evening opened with a brief scene of three giddy young ladies (Michelle Louise, Zelda Koznofski and Bruna Palmeiro) spanking the bare bottom of the landlady (Julia McArthur). This brief scene was called “A Visit to Mrs. Birch and the Young Ladies of the Academy”. If you are into spanking this is a piece for you.

The 1934 play by Andre de Lorde and Pierre Chine “Jack the Ripper” followed. This originally was performed at the Le Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris. The new English adaptation is by Carl Grose. The drama was played straight with very little camp by some excellent actors sporting good British accents.
Outstanding was Jack Flaw as Jack the Ripper. He reminded me in voice and gesture the late great actor Victor Buono who I had the pleasure of knowing when working on “Baby Jane”. Also giving a very good performance with a spot on British accent was Eric O’Kelly as Dr. Short. Bruna Palmeiro as Jenny, Norman Macleod as Inspector Smithson and Jack Crow as Chief Inspector Richards gives worthy performances. There was a sufficient enough blood in one of the scenes to satisfy fans of “The Walking Dead” who attended the opening night show.

Following the intermission the company went all out in camp by staging a wild version of “Salome” starring Noah Haydon as Salome. He rocked as the dancer looking like Joan Collins in drag who demanded the head of John the Baptist. Noah has great vocal cords singing the music and lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn. Once again I thought of my late friend Victor Buono since Jack Flaw played Herod. This was quickly followed by the last play with a long title “The Wrong Ripper; or, Headline Noose; or Pageant for the Handsome Accused”.

“The Wrong Ripper” a speculative history by Rob Keefe with music by Scrumbly Koldewyn was again high camp. Rob Keefe was inspired by the double murder of Blanche Lamont and Minnie Williams that took place in 1895 at San Francisco Emanuel Baptist Church. At the time there were two San Francisco newspapers the Chronicle and Examiner vying for more sensational coverage to increase their circulation.

Noah Haydon along with Tina Sogliuzzo and Bruna Palmeiro are a blast singing and dancing to Koldewyn melodies. Russell Blackwood gives a terrific performance with his magnificent voice as newspaper editor Beauvais. Zelda Koznofski is perfect playing a San Francisco diva Moira Von Stepp.

Pitch darkness takes over the big finale during which ghosts fly around the room and get up close and personal with audience members. Although costumes by Tina Sogliuzzo, Flynn Demarco and Dwight Overton and sets by James Blackwood stand out, it is clear that many highly imaginative and energetic individuals comprise Thrillpeddlers.

“Shocktoberfest 14” runs through November 23rd at The Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th Street, San Francsco. For tickets go to www.thrillpeddlers.com

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