2014 – Stage Fright

2014 – Stage Fright

Kylie Swanson – Minnie Driver
Roger McCall – Meat Loaf
Camilla Swanson – Alie MacDonald
Buddy Swanson – Douglas Smith
Joel Hopton – Kent Nolan
Artie Getz – Brandon Uranowitz
Sam Brownstein – Ephraim Ellis
Liz Silver – Melanie Leishman
Director and Writer – Jerome Sable
Composers and Lyrics – Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion
Production company – Serendipity Point Films/ XYZ Films in association with Citizen Jones
Producers – Jonas Bell Pasht and Ari Lantos
Director of Photography – Bruce Chun
Editor – Christopher Donaldson, Lisa Grootenboer and Nicholas Musurca
Production design – Oleg M. Savytski
Art design – Vicky Peters
Costumes – Michael Ground
Makeup – Jessica Fulmer
Special makeup effects designer – David Scott

2014 – Stage Fright

The parody style of this adaptation is indicated at the very start with the announcement: ‘The following is based on true events. While the names have been changed to respects the victims and their families, the music numbers will be performed exactly as they occurred.’

After the triumphant opening night of the new musical The Haunting of the Opera, the leading lady, Kylie Swanson, is brutally murdered in her dressing room by a figure masked as the Opera Ghost of the stage show. Ten years later, her partner and manager Roger looks after her two children, Camilla and Buddy, and runs a musical theatre summer camp. The camp’s annual production is to be the first revival of The Haunting of the Opera since the fateful premiere – and in a kabuki staging. Camilla vies for the leading role (her mother’s) with Liz. The young director, Artie, uses sexual blackmail to determine which of the two girls he will choose to play the lead on the opening night.

A figure masked as the kabuki Opera Ghost of the stage show mounts violent attacks on the cast and crew as rehearsals continue. The killer dislikes not only the show, but all musical theatre and those who perform it. Roger is desperate for the show to be a success so that he can get back into professional production and raise the money to save the failing camp. Despite the first murder, the show goes ahead, with increasing disaster onstage and bloodbath behind the scenes. The denouement reveals the identities of the killer at the summer camp and the original murderer of ten years previously. It proves to be very much a family affair.

The film is a comic mash-up of such TV shows as Glee and classic horror films (Carrie, Psycho and Texas Chain Saw Massacre are just some of the filmic allusions). Lloyd Webber’s stage musical is also a clear part of the parody source material in narrative and music, as are more generic Broadway music numbers. In contrast to the musical theatre of the camp, the killer is portrayed through rock, echoing a similar musical characterization used in Argento’s film Opera [1987; also known as Terror at the Opera]. The casting of genuine rock singer Meatloaf as Roger produces a wittily ironic confrontation in music as the killer attacks him with a knife, a shrieking rock voice and a lead guitar solo, while he – an authentic rock singer – is characterized vocally in the film solely through musical theatre style.

John Snelson


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