Life with No Purpose
Re-Animator the Musical
Review by Ross Anthony

Prior to the performance, audience members in the first few rows were informed/warned that they'd chosen seating in the “Splash Zone.” The easy-to-clean plastic lawn chairs might have been a tip off. In any case, they were provided with tailor-made (holes cut for arms) trash bags to afford some protection from any spurting blood, or the odd organ that might slither off stage. Lastly, reassurance was provided that this blood would not stain clothing. I sat in the very last row.

While the bagged are eventually rewarded with splatter, thankfully the production is not a gore-fest; also for the most part, actors remained dressed. So if the poster scared you away based on those concerns, scurry not, give it a go. There's a lot of good entertainment here. Sure, the plot is quite derivative, but hey, this is a fun play!

Despite hosting only one live musician (that I could see), the keyboard/synth score fits the venue and mood aptly. The leads have sweet-enough voices and strong acting chops. Kudos to Chris L. McKenna, he's a perfect sympathetic character. Graham Skipper is also endearingly mad, and Jesse Merlin compellingly creepy with his odd opera style of singing. Merlin's inappropriate love songs had the audience in stitches (kudos to the writing there). McKenna and Skipper harmonize in fourth's and fifth's which adds a nice resonance to their potentially menacing pairing.

Highlights. The song “She's dead, Dan.” Loving couple singing their polarized ideas for marriage. Meg, “The wedding will be grand, the wedding will be planned.” Dan, “The wedding can be fun, like eating on the run.” And here's a lyric in a Dr. West's song that struck me surprisingly into a philosophic reflection, “I give life with no purpose. Life for its own sake.” And another line he uttered, despite the silliness of the play, left me considering how such a perspective might be indicative of the obsessed as they stumble over that line of sanity. As Dan considers the loss of his girlfriend, West refocuses, “She is not important,” he points at his scientific experiments, “This is everything.”

As for the staging, they've done well with very little. I enjoyed the use of the door/wall doubling for both inside and outside sans any verbal queue. There's also a wonderful feeling as the two crazed, flashlight-wielding doctors enter the dark, seemingly corpse-less morgue, and then we realize that we are the dead bodies.

There's not much to not-like here. I wasn't crazy about the “zombie dance.” It seemed rather obligatory; yet nonetheless, easily tolerated. Over all, the production is fun, well paced, holds together strongly and provides a nice evening of entertainment. Half the audience stood in applause. Two people mentioned to me that they were fans of the 1980's film of the same name. They added, “The play was even better than the film.”

-- Books by Ross Anthony, Author/Illustrator --

  • Re-Animator the Musical. Copyright © 2011.
  • Based on the April 17th, 2011 performance at the Steve Allen Theatre Cast: Chris L. McKenna, Rachael Avery, Graham Skipper, Jesse Merlin, Harry S. Murphy, Marlon Grace, Brian Gillespie, Mark Belzman, Cynthia Carle, Liesel Hanson. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft film “Re-Animator.”

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Monday, 18-Apr-2011 15:28:04 PDT