On Friday night, I had the pleasure of seeing The Serious Theatre Collective’s presentation of Professor Von Awesome’s Ghost Hunting Safari. This show was billed as “an evening of music, puppetry, burlesque and necromancy,” and it delivered.
In the back of a quintessential Lower East Side bar, the mood is spooky with a live band playing haunting music and the room lit with candles. The menu offers unique, custom libations such as “The Asphyxiatin’ Vixen” and “The skirt Chaser.” I recommend “The Possessed Exorcist.”
As soon as Professor Von Awesome, played by Mike Drummey, graces the stage you know you’re in for a fun, campy night. Mike is over the top hilarious and holds the show well as he explains how he stole the book of the dead, and how he will use it to bring back his beloved.
The only thing that overshadowed the humor was the raw talent. The team of writers (Lizz Leiser, Becca Worthington, Ricardo Delgado, Mike Drummey, Ari Kessler, Nick Masercola, and Jacob Callie Moore) understand humor and plot construction, and put together a tight production. I was blown away by Norman and Ursula Stuby’s creative props, especially the Indonesian puppet show and the ghost x-ray machine. Sam Durant, who plays Renaldo, can make the audience laugh with just a lift of his eyebrow. Annalisa Derr gives a sensual and hilarious strip tease as a burlesque dancer possessed by an old prude. This is a wonderful theater collective and I suggest you check them out now while tickets are just $15.
This show is like Monty Python and Young Frankenstein meets Halloween. If you like camp, music, and all things gholish, you’ll love it. The original score takes cues from hip hop, cabaret, and blues. The song that stood out for me was the Brian McNight-style explanation of ghosts. I was also blown away by Kirsten Rani Almeida’s range in the song “When Have I Ever Let You Astray?”
Make sure to arrive early, as the noise from the bar can be distracting if you sit towards the back of the room. Remember that this is experimental theater so don’t go expecting Broadway-style production.
I love to support creative people who are working hard for their dreams, and I know you do too! They only have four more shows in NYC so click here for tickets, or if you’re going to be in Philadelphia towards the end of October, you can click here for details.
(Photographs by Morgan Shortell)
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