Years before South Park became a pop cultural phenomenon and long before The Book of Mormon took Broadway by storm, Trey Parker (and Matt Stone) gave the world the film Cannibal: The Musical.
Originally adapted for the stage in 2001, there is no “official” stage script and it is up to those who obtain the rights to adapt the movie themselves. While there is an adapter’s guide, the show allows production teams to add their own mark to the already outrageous musical, loosely based on the true story of American prospector Alferd Packer who was accused of cannibalism.
Director Corwin Ferguson, who adapted this production, rises to the occasion adding just enough nods to the more famous of the Parker/Stone creations to remind us where Cannibal comes from, and his South Park-inspired projections that help set time and place are smart and at times quite funny (keep your eyes peeled for a bug-eyed visitor that keeps popping up).
The musical itself is, as one would expect, ridiculous and irreverent fun and while it may not have the same clever wit of its more famous cousins, it is still a raunchy romp from the team that would eventually give us Elders Price and Cunningham.
And while not everything works and the songs lack any real sophistication, this young cast (loudly) embraces Ferguson’s vision and are simply having a great time being part of a show that largely benefits from its pedigree.
Standouts in this large cast of twelve include Chelsey Yamasaki who manages to make her roles as Fire and Snowman memorable; along with Chris Lam, Yamasaki helps make “Let’s Build a Snowman“ one of the show’s funniest numbers. Chelsea Rose Tucker has one of the best voices of the night and Ryan Lino simply embraces his role as the butcher Frank Miller, with great results.
South Park-lite, Cannibal: The Musical is 90 minutes of pure silliness.
Cannibal: The Musical written by Trey Parker. Music by Trey Parker and Rich Sanders. Directed by Corwin Ferguson. An Awkward Stage Productions presentation. On stage at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 E Cordova St) as part of the 2104 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.