Thursday, December 12, 2013

Robert Faires Reviews Untitled Zombie Hamburger Musical at University of Texas

Austin Chronicle

All Over Creation


A new musical by the 'Urinetown' team is born on the 40 Acres, and the chorus line craves bra-a-ains

By Robert Faires, Fri., Dec. 13, 2013

Chris Montalvo, Allie Donnelly (via Austin Chronicle)'Tis the season when much attention is given to what is born – the Son of Heaven, on Earth as man; the sun in heaven, returning with spring – but I didn't expect this year's births to include singing and dancing zombies.

Of course, really, who does expect singing and dancing zombies, at any time of year? In this instance, perhaps only their creators: playwright Greg Kotis and composer Mark Hollmann, whose names may ring a bell thanks to a keen little show they made a dozen years ago, Urinetown: The Musical. In the time since that satirical sensation snagged three Tony Awards (Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical for University of Texas alum John Rando), it has become a favorite on the college and high school theatre circuits and its writers have gone on to celebrate in song and drama the origin of life on the ocean floor (Yeast Nation [the triumph of life]) and the making of a one-man musical vehicle for Bush 43 Attorney General John Ashcroft (Eat the Taste). Once you've carved out niches in the American musical theatre for those topics, what's left to tackle but the living dead?

In truth, the team had been approached about writing a musical history of the hamburger for a theatre company that, Kotis says, hoped such a work would draw backing from the fast-food industry. Kotis responded with a fast-food-related musical idea that he and Hollmann had pitched for a movie: A chain called Chicken Hutt has created a new sandwich that, unfortunately, turns those who eat it into the shambling, brain-craving undead. While Kotis openly admitted that the show wouldn't inspire anyone in the industry to throw money at it, True Love Productions went ahead and commissioned Kotis and Hollmann to write it.

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