Showing posts with label Bootless Stageworks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bootless Stageworks. Show all posts

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Bootless Splatters You with Fun in Its Zombie Apocalypse Musical

By Mike Logothetis
Theater reviewer Mike Logothetis grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.

Bootless Stageworks' 
Night of the Living Dead! The Musical! takes audiences on a rip-roaring journey beyond the grave. The show is an exuberant, campy rock musical version of George Romero’s iconic 1968 horror film. Seven hopeful survivors of a recent zombie apocalypse are trapped in a farmhouse trying desperately to escape with their lives. The ever-growing horde of zombies outside forces our protagonists to act quickly and decisively, even if those choices aren’t the wisest.

Show creator Jordan Wolfe delivers with crisp, clever dialogue and some jaunty tunes. Director Rosanne DellAversano keeps things tight through the almost 2-hour run time. The songs range from rock to jazzy-pop to more traditional musical theater fare. Night of the Living Dead! The Musical! is a hysterical, hummable doomsday adventure, complete with Bootless’ infamous “Pit Splatter Zone.”

Full disclosure for those in the “Pit Splatter Zone:" This is a messy show with fake blood splattering all around.

Bootless is not responsible for damage to clothing or any other personal items. It is strongly recommended that you don’t bring purses, bags, or anything else that can’t get wet, dirty, or needs to be left on the floor. Ziplock bags are suggested for cell phones. Bring your own poncho or other covering as Bootless does not offer or sell such items. If you're sitting in the new comfortable tiered seats, there’s no need to worry about protecting yourself or your personal items.

The story begins when Barbara (Mariza Eperanza) and her brother Johnny (John Jerbasi) are attacked by a zombie while visiting a graveyard with only “Babs” escaping to a nearby farmhouse. There she finds six other living humans hiding from roaming gangs of the undead. She falls for the de facto leader Ben (Antoine Martinez-Jones), who has plenty of swagger. Dippy couple Tom (Jose Bernard) and Judy (Lauren Knecht) plus a three-person family believe taking refuge in the basement is the best way to ride things out while Ben thinks escaping to the nearby town is optimal. Harry (Dale Martin) and his alcoholic wife Helen (Adrienne Baranowski) only want what’s best for their young daughter Betty-Lou (Meg Arters). Between the infighting and the waves of attacking zombies, tension and angst run rampant.

Having said that, the show is a musical comedy, so these tough times are sprinkled with lots of songs and jokes. Standout numbers include “What Could Go Wrong Today” (ensemble), “The Juice” (Helen), and “Doctor’s Orders” (Dr. Greishen and Dr. Gretchen). Meg Arters delivers in a big way from her knees in the reprise of “Night of the Living Dead!” before the company joins in. Arters acting from her knees (playing a little girl) is one of the great sight gags in the show. From Ben’s poor job boarding up the windows to Helen juggling liquor bottles to blood splattering all over those in the front rows, the show commands your attention. Perhaps the best “special effect” comes early when Babs is running away from an attacking zombie through the woods.

There are plenty of funny one-liners and song lyrics peppered throughout the show. Some get lost in the theater space, but most come through. Sage words from Harry like “Never inconvenience yourself” or Judy’s battle cry “Namaste, bitches!” are just a couple of examples. The lyric that evoked the most laughs came via radio news announcer Robin Graves (Abbey Ketterling) who sings to her audience, “You’re [expletive]!” The closing stanza of “The Love Song” has the lines “I hope my love won’t trigger your gag reflex” and “Swallow my love.” Yeah, it’s an adult show.

Bootless Stageworks sells alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor) from a fully stocked bar. In fact, there is a proposed drinking game for the show which has patrons drink every time the actors say “Babs” or “basement.” The atmosphere is a mature one, so you might want to leave younger children at home with a sitter. 

Act II introduces characters outside of the farmhouse like Dan the Science Man (Jerbasi), Holden D’Séance (Henry Stenta), doctors Greishen and Gretchen (Baranowski and Knecht), and Sheriff Tractor (Benji Deivert).

Jerbasi shines in his delivery of “Radiation” while Stenta is cool in his TV hosting duties. Sheriff Tractor is a flawed but funny man who even leads the ensemble in a County Western line dance during “This Ain’t My First Rodeo.”

Live musical accompaniment is provided by The Zombie Loving Band – Joe Eigenbrot, Jim Fazzino, John Hutchinson, and Deb Bialecki – under the direction of James W. Fuerst. 

Do our heroes escape with their lives and sanity? Will you leave the show covered in fake blood? Come to Bootless Stageworks and find out!

The remaining performance schedule of Night of the Living Dead! The Musical! is Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7, at 8:00pm. Tickets start at $28 and patrons can opt (or not) to sit in the “Pit Splatter Zone." Tickets can be purchased via Bootless' website or by calling 302.887.9300. There is one 15-minute intermission. The theater space is in the basement of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church at 1301 N. Broom Street in Wilmington.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”

Monday, April 29, 2019

Bootless Hosts Parody of Child Pageantry with "Honey"

By Mike Logothetis
"Logo" grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.

Over the weekend (April 26-28, 2019), Trolley Square’s underground theater, Bootless Stageworks, offered its space to stage a very funny new musical called Close Your Legs, Honey. From Friday night through the Sunday matinee, a pre-teen beauty pageant was taking place in the basement of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.

The show follows girls in a Tennessee pageant as they dance, sing, answer interview questions, pose for the judges, and spend time backstage. In the cut-throat world of child pageants, the young ladies are the heroines as well as the villains in this short musical. But the focus is on little Honey and her commanding “Mama,” who was a beauty queen in her youth.

Show co-creator Hannah Parke plays the titular Honey perfectly. In Honey, we see a child trying to please her demanding mother (Katherine Perry) as well as step forward in her own voice. Honey has an innocent, but independent streak and can’t always understand why the other pageant girls don’t really like her. Jenna Kuerzi (Sweetie), Colleen Murphy (Angel), and Kendyll Young (Baby) act wonderfully as foils to Parke’s Honey. Each girl has her own personality quirks and demons.

Smarmy host (Grant Struble) keeps the action rolling, introducing each segment of the pageant. A lot of the fun comes through visions provided by Mama’s “go-go juice.” Each time she and/or Honey sip a little too much, Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton (Camille E. Young) appears before them. Dolly has some of the best songs in the show and commands the stage, just like in real life.

The physical humor in the show was outstanding. Having adults portray children’s eccentricities in a blocked and choreographed musical is not easy. Movements need to be precise and children are anything but that. The women portraying the pageant girls were off-step as contestants, but right on cue when backstage 
 i.e., not being judged. Kudos to director/co-creator Shamus Hunter McCarty and choreographer Dana Kreitz for their work portraying little kids doing anything to please adults.

The final musical number has the pageant girls rejecting the pageant system and their parents to rebelliously embrace who they are. But who’s the pageant winner? In the end, the audience wins and the cast and crew deserve a big round of applause.

Bootless Stageworks did not produce this traveling show, but offered its space to share the fun with Delawareans lucky enough to have attended. The book, music, and lyrics to Close Your Legs, Honey were written by Parke and McCarty. Orchestrations and arrangements were by Damien Figueras and Matthew Mastronardi provided additional music. Eleanor Safer was the stage manager for this short theatrical run in Wilmington. It’s no surprise the show was a hit at the 2018 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

For more information on the musical, visit

Bootless is a collaborative group of self-proclaimed theater geeks that are always looking for the strange, unusual, weird 
 but always entertaining — adventure in live theater, comedy and music. 

Visit for a list of future events and shows.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Whether to Shock or Enchant: Bootless Stageworks Expands Wilmington’s Arts Offerings

Content of this post originated from the blog by JulieAnne Cross of

The cast of Disenchanted.
Photo courtesy of Bootless Stageworks.
For nine out of the last ten years, Bootless Stageworks has staged horror-themed musical theater productions, usually in the summer, such as Evil Dead, The Musical and The Texas Chainsaw Musical!, featuring the company’s signature “splatter zone,” a section of seating where tarps and ponchos protect guests from a thorough soaking of stage blood. And where other guests wear white shirts that will serve as a stained souvenir of their experience. 

But don’t let the preponderance of singing, sweltering gore-fests fool you.

From “a galaxy far, far away” to human trafficking right here in this country, Bootless has tackled subject matter holding what is likely the broadest appeal of any theater company in Delaware, and is making its mark on the greater performing arts community by opening its doors wide to talented neighbors.

The Bootless origin story starts like just about every other arts nonprofit in our state: a group of talented friends was looking for a way to express themselves. These friends included Rosanne DellAversano and James W. Fuerst, the husband and wife team who are both co-founders and leaders of Bootless. At first known as Arden Club Theatre, after five years, Bootless gained its 501c3 in 2009…and immediately needed to seek a new venue.

During its early years, Bootless put on shows at the Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew, Reach Academy for Girls, Bellanca Air Service Hangar (replete with on-site firefighters, since the hangar was not equipped with sprinklers), empty storefronts at Riverfront Wilmington and OperaDelaware Studios.

After wandering the theatrical desert, Bootless signed a long-term lease with St. Stephen’s Church at 13th and Broom in 2014. Bootless has diligently renovated the church’s basement social hall into a 75-seat theater and flex space, and began offering five to six year-round performances in their own home.

Since then, the Bootless crew has invited hip hop, drag, comedy, open mic, and even other theater companies to share the same stage where Bootless puts on musicals, operettas, operas and stage plays.

Recent artistic guests have included Wilmington drag performer Miss Troy (possibly more widely known for her alter-ego, Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino), a documentary presented by the Afrikan Connection and live comedy presented by Nova Scotia-born Belynda Cleare.

If generating income through refreshment sales seems like the goal of opening up their venue to entrepreneurial guest artists, you’d be underestimating Bootless’ support of performers.

DellAversano says, “Bootless firmly believes that choosing to be a working performing artist is one of the toughest career paths. It isn’t the standard nine-to-five job, and only in rare cases does it make one rich.” She adds, “The reward is usually the sheer joy of seeing a total stranger laugh, cry, contemplate or discover because of your interaction with them. During those ninety minutes or so of togetherness, there is nothing else but what is taking place on stage and being shared. It’s a profession that is uniquely intimate with millions. And, the experience provided by the artist has a real value.”

She describes the typical experience of a performing artist, which is often sharing their talents for free. The term “starving artist” is neither new nor, sadly, outdated.

Empathizing with the artists she engages, DellAversano says, “You wouldn’t ask a plumber to complete repairs for free. Why then is it perfectly fine to ask or assume an artist will work without pay? Food can’t be bought and bills can’t be paid with exposure.”

In a stroke of irony, Bootless’ founders, board and executive staff are volunteers, yet they see that their artists, including designers, musicians, playwrights and composers, get paid, and offer the same opportunity for guest artists.

DellAversano says, “Most of the time, we provide our space for free, so long as we can run concessions. Whether it be Brandon Jackson or Belynda Cleare with their comedy shows, Jea Street with his CD release party, Joe Belardo with his Open Mic Night, Miss Troy & Friends with Drag Me to Story Time, or the Afrikan Connection with the documentary film The Black Candle, Bootless does not charge a fee for the use of its venue. Plus, the artists/exhibitors keep their entire ticket sales.” 

The drag community has found a supportive home with Bootless. Preceded by Death is a Drag, a Bootless original murder mystery drag show in 2012, a number of drag events have been staged at the Broom Street facility, with more in the future.

Bootless regularly presents works that are new to Delaware audiences. IN fact, the 2016-2017 season only featured a single “standard” work — Spring Awakening — and in 2010-2011, all the company’s productions were either originals or Delaware premieres.

Approximately thirty productions in Bootless’ ten-year history were regional or local premieres. That’s too many to list, but highlights include: Orange Is The New Musical (East Coast premiere, 2017), In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) (Delaware premiere, 2016), Terminator, The Second (East Coast premiere, 2014), Jerry Springer, The Opera (regional premiere, 2012), Star Wars, A New Musical Hope (regional premiere, 2013) and a few more summer gore-fests.

Lest one think their repertoire is all pop culture and sex, note that Bootless has also tackled historical subject matter, such as The Trial of Thomas Garrett, commissioned for A Day in Old New Castle in 2010.

DellAversano says that Bootless is in contract discussions to bring several more new works to Wilmington by 2020, including a new musical based on famous serial killers, in the style of Assassins, with many members from Bootless working on its plot lines and music.

With general admission ticket prices usually lingering in the $15-22 range, it’s clear Bootless also cares about its audience. Plus it’s ADA accessible and free parking is easy to find. It makes up for moderate ticket pricing, like every other nonprofit theater, with fundraising.

Be sure to support this scrappy theater company by attending one of the mainstage productions, an open mic night, a comedy night, a visiting theater company’s production or one of the two upcoming drag shows this spring. Our picks:
  • Spice Girls Drag Tribute (Miss Troy & Friends) on Thursday, May 16 at 7:30pm.
Up next on the main stage is the INternational hit musical Disenchanted!, making its Delaware premiere from March 22 to April 6. It’s a hilariously twisted, adult themed, Disney spoof-tacular princess musical. In New York, 700 women auditioned for a one-night-only workshop of the musical, which sold out and resulted in a standing ovation, and went on to 2014 and 2015 runs, studded with celebrity audience members.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bootless Stageworks Hosts Comedy Night

By Mike Logothetis

On Friday night, Trolley Square’s underground theater, Bootless Stageworks, staged a rollicking comedy night open to all ages. Four comedians took the stage to tickle the collective funny bone of about 70 people. The headliner was Stavros Halkias, a New York-based comedian, originally from Baltimore, whose star is quickly rising.

The basement theater space was set up as a nightclub with close to 20 tables facing the intimate stage, which featured a faux brick backdrop. The full bar served beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks at very reasonable prices. Snacks could be purchased at the bar or you could nibble on free popcorn at your table.

Local stand-up comedian Brandon Vincent Jackson acted as the emcee for the evening, telling jokes and introducing the three main comics. Wilmington’s Guy Schiavi opened the evening of stand-up with a short 15-minute set that got the audience loosened up.

Second on the docket was the electric Ian Fidance. Fidance is an offbeat yet upbeat stand-up comic, actor, and writer originally from Wilmington who now calls Brooklyn home. The mustached entertainer has grown to be a standout stand-up with a fresh, positive voice in comedy. His own online bio reads: “A delicious cup of tea best drank live, Ian’s comedy has been described as ‘bizarre yet funny’ by The Interrobang.” Fidance’s half-hour routine was energetic and very funny. You can hear some of his musings on his podcast called “Ian Fidance’s Wild World.”

Headliner Stavros Halkias has made appearances on Adult Swim, XM Satellite radio, IFC, and the MSG Network, where he wrote and performed on the Emmy nominated, “People Talking Sports and Other Stuff.” He’s been featured in Tig Notaro’s “Bentzen Ball,” the New York Comedy Festival, and toured nationally with Wham City Comedy, Tom Papa, and Robert Kelly. Halkias is also a co-host of the popular podcast “Cum Town” and widely known for his body-positive Instagram account (@stavvybaby2).

While only 5’7”, Halkias looms larger than that on stage. He has a bearing that oozes confidence and swagger. Halkias commands the stage and your attention, but not in a brash way. His banter and cadence were rhythmic and natural. While most touring artists praise the host city, Halkias repeatedly downplayed Wilmington, its importance, and relevance…and it was funny! “Stav” is obviously very quick-witted and composed several jokes on the fly. He riffed and got the audience to share information and anecdotes. Halkias took those nuggets and spun them into comedic gold.

Yes, things got lewd, but it played into his honesty as a performer. He opened up about his life growing up Greek in Baltimore in a family torn apart by his father’s infidelity. He expounded on his missing front tooth. He repeatedly reminded us of his stature and girth. He regaled us with his successful and failed sexual escapades. All in all, we soaked up his hysterical ponderings and bits for over an hour. After closing the night to roaring applause, a near stampede followed him to the merchandise table for meet-and-greet sessions and selfies. The audience couldn’t get enough of him during or after the show.

Bootless Stageworks performances take place in the basement of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church at 1301 North Broom Street in Wilmington. The regular company is an ensemble company of skilled emerging artists committed to producing contemporary theater experiences that are stimulating, adventurous, challenging, immediate, and present. Bootless is a collaborative group of self-proclaimed theater geeks that are always looking for the strange, unusual, weird, but always entertaining adventure in live theater, comedy, and music. Visit for a list of future events and shows at Bootless Stageworks. The next two DE Live Comedy Nights (hosted by Belynda Cleare and Lonnie Webb with DJ E’Nice) are on April 13 and May 25 at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best of 2015: Holly's Picks

WDL's Memphis. Photo: Kristen Romero

2015 was another great year for Delaware theater, with big changes (The DuPont Theatre was sold by the DuPont Co. to The Grand in January, and Delaware Theatre Company began actually developing shows for Broadway for the first time) and big excitement -- I don’t think I went to a single show in ‘15 without a full audience. I might even go so far as to say that Delaware is in the middle of a theater Renaissance, from Community theater on up.

I get get to catch every show of 2015 -- I don’t cover Delaware Theatre Company for Stage anymore, so I’ve missed a few highly praised productions -- but I did catch a lot of great productions. Here are my top picks:

Best Drama: Nora, Delaware Theatre Company -- One of the DTC shows I did catch was Nora, based on Ingmar Bergman’s A Doll’s House, a gripping story of a Victorian-era woman learning to assert her independence. It’s productions like this that are are putting Wilmington on the map.

Best non-musical comedy: Steel Magnolias, The Candlelight Theatre -- TCT is known for high-quality musicals, so it was a surprise that my favorite of their ‘15 season was their non-musical production of Steel Magnolias, a comic drama with an all-woman cast.

Best Shakespearian: Love’s Labour’s Lost, City Theater Company -- CTC had two big shows in 2015, and while “American Idiot” got more hype, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was the real winner for me. With an immersive stage setup and a rock soundtrack, this was not a typical production of Shakespeare by any stretch, but it was the most successful non-traditional production I’ve seen yet.

Best Summer Production: Evil Dead The Musical, Bootless Stageworks -- Bootless’ Summer Splatter Series is a Wilmington tradition, and a highlight of the summer. They’ve done Evil Dead before, but this year it was at their new location at St. Stephen’s Church on Broom Street, and showed that Ryan P.J. Mulholland may have been born to play Ash.

Best Family Show/Most Fun: Shrek The Musical, Wilmington Drama League -- With a huge all-ages cast retelling the uplifting story of triumphant misfitittery, Shrek was way more fun than I expected it to be.

Best Touring Show: Camelot, The Playhouse -- Despite rumors that The Playhouse would no longer focus on Broadway touring shows, the 15-16 season is packed with big Broadway shows. My favorite of 2015 was Camelot - the updated version of the classic musical had some of the most stunning visuals of the year.

Best Show Overall: Memphis, Wilmington Drama League -- WDL stepped their game up to a whole new level with Memphis, the Broadway musical about the birth of rock ‘n roll. Everything hit the right note: the diverse cast was amazing, the sets were atmospheric, the story was a lesson in American history as well as a lesson in the roots of rock music. Truly a Community production that was up there with the professional theaters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bootless Delivers Theater for Sci-Fi Geeks, with Star Wars, a New Musical Hope

By Guest Blogger, JulieAnne Cross
JulieAnne is a Wilmington-area do-gooder, specializing in public relations, communications and events, with a focus on the dining industry. Her first arts job was in the opera industry two decades ago, and she famously states that her “only talent is pushing pencils.”

As a regular patron of Bootless Stageworks’ productions, I look forward to seeing the schedule every year. Familiar pop culture stories appear in some shape or another, year after year: Evil Dead (four times now?), Terminator the Second, Musical of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Musical, Jerry Springer, the Opera. I had seen a Bootless production of Star Wars, a New Musical Hope in 2012 and when they announced its return, I was certain I’d see it again.

Although I’d never honor myself with the label of 'sci-fi geek,' the Star Wars movies have, for years, created a common ground for family-time entertainment choices with my now 14-year-old son. While he was all weapons and action figures and play fighting, I was all art and theater and film, and Star Wars was a terrific compromise. Nevertheless, he became my “theater buddy” from a young age, seeing countless Shakespeare productions, literary classics and Broadway hits starting around age 4. Whimsical productions, such as what Bootless offers, ensured there was some payoff for him during those awkward years when I had to push a little harder to get my theater buddy on board with my entertainment plans.

This production was a musical parody of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, scripted by local playwright, Jeremy Gable, and with music by Timothy Edward Smith and Hunter Nolen. The cast consisted of Caleb Duffy (Luke), Shaun Yates (Obi-Wan Kenobi), James Fuerst (Darth Vader), Ryan PJ Mulholland (Han), Maria Leonetti (Leia), Christopher Waters (C3P0), and Bob Ferst (a 7-foot-tall Chewbacca) as well as Wes Belli, AJ DellAversano, Bob Demarco, Mark Dixon, Mariza Esperanza, Robin Fanelli, Shamus Halloran, Shawn Kline, Andrew Laino, Tom McCarthy, Sean McGuire, Samantha Moscony, James Scotland, Luka Villani and Sedric Willis. Rosanne Dellaversano directed.

What I’ve come to expect from Bootless when they stage a parody is home-spun special effects created with a sustainable, 80-seat theater budget. There is a certain level of amusement that comes from seeing how Bootless delivers on something a Hollywood director had tens of millions to spend on. (Oh, the amount of cardboard used in Terminator the Second! Such a contrast to the Shakespearean dialogue.) I’d like to think I can suspend disbelief more easily for a sustainable budget than I can for a behemoth, and I know I’m not the only one who loved Bootless’ solution to the car chase challenge in Terminator the Second.

For Star Wars, the MOE 365 FIRST Robotics Team created a robotic R2D2. It was thrilling to see it roll out of stage right unassisted on opening night, and none too surprising to hear the mechanical parts struggling as it failed to roll back out again at the end of the scene. To be clear: PLEASE TRY THIS AGAIN NEXT TIME, BOOTLESS! I love your risk-taking and whimsy and I’d rather see Anthony crouching down to save R2 from falling over during the scene than see you not take the risk.

Bootless made effective use of several video projections, and a simple structure representing the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon did the trick for travel scenes. Otherwise, the staging was fairly sparse; given the number of people who needed to be on stage together during some scenes, this was understandable. The trash compactor scene was well-executed with the old Kuroko-holding-a-moving-wall trick.

When you know a story as well as I know Star Wars, it can be challenging to stay “in the moment” and one’s mind focuses on funny little details. I could not figure out why the heck Obi-Wan’s sleeves were tucked into his robe, until he “disappeared” through the left curtain, leaving his robe in the familiar puddle that marked his mortal exit in the film. I’m laughing now as I write about it…very cute. Other costuming and staging details that entertained: the brown creature consuming a dead Greedo in the Cantina, the purposely repeated scenes with the same two actors behind the bar/control panel, the tiny skeletons after the Tattooine slaughter, Luke’s blindfolded piñata-esque training scene. The Chewbacca costume was excellent, and Ferst managed his stilts masterfully. I was certain C3PO was going to inadvertently drop trou, a couple of the Stormtroopers had camel-toe, and I really wanted Leia to have boots instead of ballet flats, but we’re talking about sustainable theater, not obsessive cosplay.

I recall past productions where Bootless incorporated live music and I look forward to more of that; if a theater has to use canned music, making sure it works well is key, and I don’t recall any technological distractions, volume was just right, speaker quality was good, etc. Lighting was equally digestible.

Bootless had artist Blair Webb drawing live on site, having designed the promotional art of the production. The costumed cast came out after the show for photo opportunities. These were extra special touches for sci-fi fans and theater lovers alike. The stage speech was intentionally drawn out: a large party was stuck in traffic and their post-start arrival would have been disruptive to the rest of the audience.

Although I enjoyed some of their previous venues, it is nice the Bootless has found a stable home at St. Stephen’s Church. Online ticketing now includes seat selection, which is extraordinary for a theater this size. Pricing is affordable. I have never yet had difficulty finding parking in the vicinity of 13th and Broom. All in all, Bootless consistently offers a good customer experience. (Not to mention their traditional “splatter zone” seating for gore-themed productions.)

The run for this show has ended, but be sure to check out Bootless’ production of The Light in the Piazza – a “nearly operatic” musical, including some Italian language singing 
starting November 6. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Fest of Gore, Splatter and Camp with Bootless' Evil Dead, The Musical

By Guest Blogger, Ken Grant
Ken Grant has worked in Delaware media, politics and marketing for 25 years. He and his Lovely Bride enjoy Wilmington's arts and culture scene as much as they can.

Bootless Stageworks production of Evil Dead, The Musical.
Photo by Kent Grant.
You know you're in for a fun theatrical experience when the orchestra is dressed in t-shirts and stage hands have mops at the ready to clear the stage and front row of the splatter and gore sprayed, flung and cascaded over the audience.

And with cheesy grins, knowing winks and truly horrifying puns (as if there's any other kind), the cast and crew of Bootless Stageworks provide that with Evil Dead, The Musical.

From the peppy and poppy opening song "Cabin in the Woods" where our band of happy campers are heading to their Spring Break getaway to the triumphant finale of "Blew That Bitch Away" where our hero is figuratively carried around by customers and fellow employees at the local box superstore, Evil Dead, The Musical entertains and engages the audience.

You need not be familiar with the original 1981 cult classic Evil Dead or the franchise in order to follow and enjoy Evil Dead, The Musical --- but if you're a fan, your heart should jump at some of the iconic poses and lines in this production.

The cast of Evil Dead, The Musical. Photo by Kent Grant.
The plot is your basic "friends go camping, discover book that unleashes evil, fight evil and create much blood and gore in the process" story. For anyone who has seen a trailer for any movie featuring young people, camping and a scream, there is no such thing as a "spoiler" in describing this play --- and the writers capitalize on that from the beginning with lines like, "We're five young people headed to a deserted old cabin in the woods... what could possibly go wrong?"

Ryan PJ Mulholland does a great job of channeling Bruce Campbell as Ash, the hero who knows how to handle just about any weirdness that comes his way. Justin Walsh takes the best friend role of Scott to new levels during in his duet with Mulholland "What the F*** was That?"

The dialog, singing, dancing and splattering is all handled deftly by the talented cast. The special effects put together by John and Roseanne DellAversano are impressive and fun to watch. Music Director James Fuerst increases the energy on stage and adds elements to the show that no pre-recorded music could offer.

Just in case the title, descriptions of gore and song titles haven't conveyed the message yet, this is not a show for children nor for those who find themselves offended by salty language.

Evil Dead, The Musical runs July 17 and 18 at Bootless Stageworks theater located in The Annex @ St. Stevens, 1301 Broom Street in Wilmington. 


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Musicals Go 'Bootless' in Wilmington

By Guest Blogger, Christine Facciolo
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music.  An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.

Take two hip writers, four zany characters and a theatre company notorious for its quirky productions, and what do you get?  A whole lotta fun.  Bootless Stageworks opened its 2013-2014 season with a production of Rockwell and Bogart’s The Musical of Musicals: The Musical which is a parody on — what else? — the musical.  

This side-splitting satire romps through 70 years of musical theatre history taking affectionate pokes at various masters of the genre.  The basic plot: June (Elizabeth Holmes) can’t pay her rent and is threatened by her evil landlord Jitter (Michael Gamache).  She turns for advice to Abby (Roseanne DellAversano). But will the handsome leading man Willy/Billy (Mark Dixon) save the day?

The concept is summed up on the front page of the program: Five musicals, one plot.  The variations are a Rogers & Hammerstein version set in Kansas in August — complete with a dream ballet; a Sondheim version featuring the landlord as a tortured artist who slashes the throats of tenants who fail to appreciate his genius; a splashy star vehicle a la Jerry Herman; an Andrew Lloyd Weber rock-musical featuring themes “borrowed” from Puccini; and a Kander & Ebb speakeasy set in Chicago.

The jokes are clever and continuous. The Rogers & Hammerstein segment opens Act I with a strapping cowhand singing “Oh, what beautiful corn!” and declaring “I’m in love with a wonderful hoe.”  The Sondheim segment follows, taking aim at songs like Green Finch and Linnet Bird, The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, and No One is Alone, punning several song titles as well. In Dear Abby — the Jerry Herman parody — an overly optimistic protagonist descends a staircase while her co-stars offer send-ups of Hello, Dolly!, If He Walked Into My Life and It’s Today.  

Act II opens with the Andrew Lloyd Weber takeoff, Aspects of Junita, which allows the cast to caricature some of the stars of his works.  Finally there’s the Kander & Ebb parody, where the host encourages patrons to “Drink up, ‘cause life’s a cabernet.”  The actors slink and strut in Bob Fosse-style singing takeoffs like Cell Block Tango, Liza with a Z and My Coloring Book.

The staging is efficient and the performances spot on.  Holmes is a versatile singer who can seamlessly transition from Broadway belter to operatic soprano.  DellAversano’s Abby delivers just the right amount of world-weary cynicism and a lusty singing style.  Mark Dixon is as charming a leading man as any ingénue could want.  Michael Gamache’s comedic talents fit nicely into the role of the bumbling — and sometimes demented — landlord.

Rockwell and Bogart are skillful writers and if you get the jokes, the show is funny.  Problem is some of the puns are so “inside,” that they can go over the heads of even the most ardent devotee of musical theatre.  And the constant cleverness does weary after a while.  Still a great evening of family entertainment. The show runs through October 19 at The Black Box at OperaDelaware Studios.