For the first time in Australia, the “all singing, all dancing, all flesh eating” musical Cannibal will be staged in Adelaide this December. A cult indie film from the 90s, the show is Trey Parker’s first pop culture offering, before South Park and The Book of Mormon came along. BH Theatre Company has the pleasure of presenting the show to Australian audiences for the first time.
It’s been a tremendous journey so far for co-producer and director of Cannibal! The Musical, Matthew Briggs.
“We are honoured to be presenting, what I like to call the entrée before the main course!” says Briggs, on how it feels to be putting on a Trey Parker show before the opening of The Book of Mormon in Melbourne next year” he said.
“Trey Parker has been part of popular culture since the 1993 movie of Cannibal! The Musical and it has been a long time coming for a Trey Parker stage show to make it to Australia. I can’t believe no one else in Australia has produced this show before and we will be the first”.
B&H (or Briggs & Heaysman) Theatre Company was formed when Briggs and high school friend/producing partner Josh Heaysman decided to start putting on their own work for the stage, and creating a community of dedicated individuals. This is their first show not written by an Australian.
“I was an avid fan of the movie which I have had on DVD for quite a while now. I approached my co-producer, Josh Heaysman, with the idea to adapt the movie for the stage and we both agreed the Australian premiere was long overdue!” said Briggs.
“Trey Parker has a very specific style and flair that the creative team wanted to stay true to! Although his work has had a major influence on the creative aspect of the show, we have reinterpreted some of the show by swapping the genders of certain characters, which changes their relationship with the other characters on stage” he said about the show.
Cannibal! The Musical is the story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America – Alfred Packer. While searching for gold, he and his companions get lost, and fight to survive- by any means necessary. The story is told to news reporter Polly Pry, played by Kelsey McCormack, as Packer awaits his execution.
“She’s a lot of fun to play because in the beginning she’s all about the story and does whatever it takes to get the inside scoop but as the show goes along she softens and begins to care about Packer and I really enjoy that transition”, said McCormack on her role as Pry.
“It’s quite nerve racking being the first person to play this role in Australia because those who know the movie will naturally compare: I feel I play the role differently to the film which makes it really fun because I get to play around and not have a weight on my shoulders about how she should be portrayed” she said.
“I enjoy playing Polly because we both look for the best in people and want to find out the whole story before we make our final judgments on someone. She also knows exactly who she is, what she wants and how to get it which is definitely a personality trait I try to emulate”.
“The entire process has been amazing! The whole cast is so funny and so talented that it makes each rehearsal really fun and there’s always something to laugh about” said McCormack when talking about the rehearsal process.
“The production team has also made this experience so much fun. Their vision is so clear and strong that we know exactly what they want and they support us in getting there. The audience can definitely expect some blood and guts but you’ll also get laugh out loud moments and some impressive singing” she said.
The gory subject matter of cannibalism is being handled with finesse.
“Our make-up artists, Anna Pal and Bec Troisi, have created several latex and silicone pieces, such as hands, a heart and a tongue. Don’t worry, our audiences won’t be covered in blood as they leave!” said Briggs.
The show is rarely done on a larger scale, having played Off Broadway, the Edinburgh Fridge and a number of small venues in Canada, but Briggs has high hopes for the show.
“I believe that Cannibal! The Musical has the potential to be picked up by an Australian professional company in the future and to tour around Australia in smaller venues, such as Her Majesty’s Theatre or The Dunstan Playhouse in Adelaide” he says.
You can catch the show from December 1st – 4th, at The Star Theatres in Adelaide. Tickets at: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=224431