Many times throughout the year, I am grateful to have a place to go to fill my horror needs at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group, a place I’ve learned to call home these past two and a half years. I always look forward to their horror performances and I rarely, if ever, find myself disappointed. As Halloween rapidly approaches, I’ve learned that I can always depend on Zombie Joe’s to put on a performance unlike anyone else. For the spookiest season of the year, Zombie Joe brings back Urban Death: Tour of Terror and it was everything that I could have asked for and more.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
I had the great pleasure of attending Fallen Saints: Dia de Los Muertos and I figured I would offer up some thoughts for my fellow immersive theater enthusiasts. A quick note, this is the event’s second year in existence and it is my first time attending, so I might not have caught all of the Easter eggs put in for those who saw last year’s event.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
I had the great pleasure of attending CreepLA: Lore this year and figured I would offer up my thoughts. A quick caveat or two, while I have attended CreepLA’s production The Willows, this is my first of their true Halloween productions. I also like the property they are adapting, the podcast Lore, but I am not someone who has listened to all of the episodes or were consider myself obsessed with the property. All of that being said, onto the review.
A little less than a year ago I started a journey through the imaginative Land of Oz through Speakeasy Society’s “Kansas Collection.” Each performance has been bringing guests closer and closer to uncovering the truth surrounding Dorothy while also preparing us for the impending climax that is soon to come. A few weekends ago I got to attend the latest show, THE INVITATION, where I found myself coming face to face with a decision that would set into motion my stance within the Land of Oz. If you aren’t familiar with my journey or need a refresher, visit my reviews for Chapter I: The Key, Chapter 2: The Axe and Chapter 3: The Door to get all caught up.
Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the Firelight Collective's latest immersive theater experience STARS IN THE NIGHT. To best describe the experience, I will use their taglines:
"There are cosmic events that happen once in a lifetime. What happens when worlds collide? Will you be there?
Loss, loss forms a central theme.
Then again, so does hope.
And, also, beauty.
But there is love, here, too."
When it comes to immersive experiences and/or immersive events, I thought I had seen them all. That was until I heard about Optika Moderna's "Waking La Llorona". Something about the event caught my eye and though it was being held in San Diego (about an hour and half drive from where I live), I didn't hesitate to sign myself up in hopes of getting an appointment. A few days later, I received a cryptic email from Optika Moderna informing me of a specific location, time, and date for my meeting with La Llorona...
I love ghost stories. I've always been fascinated by the paranormal and have had my fair share of unexplained encounters and experiences. In the world of immersive theater, I have noticed that there has been a shockingly low number of experiences that center around paranormal activity. When newcomers E3W Productions announced that their first event, IN ANOTHER ROOM, was going to center on a paranormal investigation of a haunted house, I knew I had to go.
In honor of its 25th anniversary, Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre has gifted us with new dark delicacies in BRAVE THE DARK. As Zombie Joe himself primed our crowd before entering, BRAVE THE DARK is a gentle immersive experience packed with some of the same notes from cult favorites like URBAN DEATH or BLOOD ALLEY.
While there are some snippets of science sutured into this mix, the minds behind QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT made it palpable for even the most resistant science class drop-outs. Ruminating in romance and looping around feelings of loss, QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT matures alongside its main character while offering each stage of its story ample room to breathe.
The Vagrancy's NORMAL is the brightest light in all of 2017's Fringe Festival. And do not try to fight me on it. This hour-long theatrical work rocks its audience with a brand of potent simplicity and flawless dynamism befitting canonical pieces of high culture from the likes of Samuel Beckett or Peter Shaffer. Better yet, NORMAL proceeded to cling to me in ways those bits of high school required reading could not.
I love a good horror origin story, and even more, I love when it's presented in musical form. One of the most anticipated shows that had it's premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival was Chelsea Stardust's SLASHED! THE MUSICAL, which combined the aforementioned origin story and musical adaptation in a way that perfectly captured 80's horror, snarky humor, and the introduction to a new, if not slightly misunderstood, horror icon.
Dracula has always been one of my favorite supernatural monsters. Whether it was the image that Bram Stoker conjured up in his famed novel, "Dracula" or one of the many upon many adaptations of the vampire through films, television shows, and books. Though the presence of TWILIGHT threw me off my love for the blood thirsty creatures for a bit, I've begun to slowly creep back. Which is why I was looking forward to see a re-telling of Stoker's "Dracula" in Cadame Company's THE RISE AND FALL OF DRACULA for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Without a doubt, SO YOU WANT TO BE A VAMPIRE has been one of the most pleasant surprises of 2017's Fringe Festival. I chuckled, I chortled, and, after I got home, I cleaned blood splatter from my glasses. Director/designer Natasha Troop and Playwright/producer Marni Troop landed this triple-axle of horror, comedy, and romance with the finesse befitting a malevolent ice dancer.
In this day and age, with all that is going on in the world, crisis counseling doesn't seem like such a bad thing. We all face a crisis at one point in our life, whether big or small, and they can be life changing depending on the situation at hand. When I heard that there was going to be a show at Hollywood Fringe that focused on crisis counseling, titled DARK ARTS, I was more than intrigued. The artwork for the event showed a man and a woman, with serious expressions on their faces, almost as if they were ready to go into battle. Having just gone through my own "crisis", I figured, what the hell, let's see what their deal is and how they go about trying to help those who have found themselves in a dilemma.
Love is a tricky thing. Sometimes, it's the most marvelous feeling in the world, bringing two people together in harmony and devotion; other times, the passion burns so bright that love can't withstand the fiery spark. Good or bad, love is a powerful emotion that can evoke an array of emotions. This past week during the Hollywood Fringe Festival preview week I had the chance to experience two shows that center around love and loss, titled FIRE and LIGHT. These shows, which are part of The Firelight Collective and are created and directed by Stephanie Feury and Nathan Keyes, were beautifully tragic and left me with tears in my eyes.
If you are familiar with my writings, then you know how much of a fan I am of Zombie Joe's BLOOD ALLEY performances, as their first one was my introduction into the dark and macabre world of Zombie Joe's Underground Theater. With that said, when I heard that there would be a new show, simply titled BLOOD ALLEY 3, I was beside myself with joy. As much as I love the other shows that perform at Zombie Joe's, I always felt much more connected to how morbid BLOOD ALLEY could be as well as how it always seemed to push the envelope of what was acceptable in these immersive performances.