Cannibal the musical is the funniest play about bestiality, starvation, and public hangings.
The play follows Alfred Packer a man accused of the grisly murder and cannibalization of his party of miners. The reporter Polly Pry manages to sneak into his cell and convince him to tell her the true story of what happened. Packer and his horse Liane are invited to join a group of minors on a journey to Colorado territory. Unfortunately the original guide Lucky Larry is suddenly struck by a bolt of lightning so they recruit Packer who has been in the area before to be there guide but it soon becomes clear that he does not know the area nearly as well as they think he does.
Despite the very dark subject matter cannibal is a very funny musical, the element that sets it apart from a lot of dark comedies is actually the way the humor functions. Despite the fact that the humor absolutely has the same edge to it as many other dark comedies it doesn’t feel like it has an edge to it. Much of the comedy feels very light, despite the very dark subject matter. Most of the characters are very likable and fun, even the ones who do terrible things. However when terrible things happen to the characters rather than being sad it is funny.
The actors are all perfect in their roles. Anthony Trombetta is great as Alfred Packer. Packer is very naïve and a little stupid, but also very genuine and sweet. Trombetta does a great job of getting this across. The standout song for him is “Shpadoinkle”, a very upbeat and optimism song about the day he expects to have. The use of made up words and strange metaphors provides half the humor were the other half comes from the certainty that everything will go wrong for him.
Rebecca Whitcher plays Polly Pry the reporter that convinces Packer to tell his story. Polly Pry has a much more direct storyline than most of the other characters starting out very cynical but slowly being drawn into his story. As she falls for him she gains her own sense of optimism. Whitcher does a great job of showing this transformation while also capitalizing on the characters humorous potential.
The Mining group that Packer leads are all very entertaining in their own right. Kyle Macdonald plays Shannon Wilson Bell the organizer of the group. In many ways Bell seems to be the most normal and stable member of the group. He is a deeply faithful man who only wants to build a church. Macdonald plays the role with a quite simple dignity, but as time goes on and the situation gets more and more dire Bell begins to show a much darker side and due to the nature of the play this is where Macdonald ability’s as a comic actor shine through. He has very great comic timing and is also very good at physical comedy. Ryan McCallion plays Israel Swan the group’s most optimistic member. McCallion does a great job portraying the characters relentlessly cheerful attitude. One of the best moments not only for his character but for the play as a whole is when they are trapped in a freezing cold winter and he decides that the best solution to their problem is to build a snowman. His rendition of his song “Let’s Build A Snowman” is filled with joy that is entirely inappropriate for the situation. Lee Malanchuk Plays the slightly insane James Humphrey. He does a great job of portraying the characters somewhat unhinged manner. Colin Miln plays George “California” Noon the groups youngest member. Miln’s performance is great because the character is obsessed with sex and Miln does a good job of portraying this but he also does a great portraying the fact that the character is still very young. He adds a wide eyed innocence to the role which adds a lot to the character. Carolyn Westberg plays Frank Miller a grouchy butcher who reluctantly joins the group. She plays the role with an admirable mix of sarcasm and rage. She also makes a great straight man to the other characters as her incredulity at their stupidity is wonderful to behold.
The miners run into a group of trappers who end up as there enemy’s. The group is led by Jason Westover as Frenchy Cabazon. He is great in the role, a chuckling cruel and thourally nasty man who is still extremely funny due to his over-the-top nature. He leads his fellow trappers in the “Trapper Song” a wild and boastful song about the trapping life. The song showcases exactly what is great about the character: he is boastful, cruel and nasty, but he is so over the top that he becomes hilarious.
Doug Rutherford plays Mills the sly prosecuting lawyer with sleazy aplomb. A particularly great moment is his leading the town in the song “Hang The Bastard.” He is obviously full of smug satisfaction about Packers upcoming death.
Winluck Wong is hilarious as a obviously Japanese ninja who is trying to blend in by pretending to native. The extreme obviousness and the his constant annoyance with the other characters stupidity is what makes the role.
Dave Paquet plays the role of Crazy Ralph a madman who tells the Miners that they will not survive. This character is only in the one scene (Paquet also plays the local sheriff) but he leaves a great impression. his repeated proclamations of doom are not only humuras in how over the top they are but also because the ultimately end being correct.
Cannibal the musical was an energetic well-acted and fun musical, it was the most fun anyone can legally have with cannibalism.