By Ilaria Cutolo
What happens when you take three anxious teenage high-school girls, add a dash of magic, mix in a zombie, a vampire, a ghost, add a dose of feminism and let brew? You get Annie Pulsipher’s, The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends. A wacky, darkly hilarious production offering a serious feminist message all wrapped in a bloody, campy shell.
After casting a hodgepodge spell with the use of 3 Ken Barbie dolls, three besties Stella, Grace, and Madison (Heather Sawyer, Alia Cuadros-Contreras, Zoe Dean) are intent on finding their perfect high-school boyfriends. Zoe, the trio’s blonde cheerleader with prom-queen prospects, falls madly for football player Zachary (Patrick Voss Davis) whom later in Act 2 becomes a brain-eating/singing Zombie. Meanwhile the brainy Grace is secretly dating a 15th century Pilgrim ghost named Silence (Hagan Oliveras) who’s MO is forcing her to (literally and metaphorically) see love where it isn’t quite there. While the gothy Stella dates vampire Lucian (Will Einbinder), reminiscent of Twilight’s Edward Cullen, who manipulates her into agreeing to having him “turn her” on prom night.
Smattered throughout are much appreciated and clever nods to pop culture. Using all the available tropes of the genre, I couldn’t help but see glimpses of High School Musical, The Twilight Saga, Little Shop of Horrors, and possibly (if I’m being very generous) The Rocky Horror Picture Show, all rolled into one. I found it campy, very silly and outrageous- as it should be. It wasn’t exactly perfect, as there were moments that lagged and at times I felt like I was watching an actual high school musical.
All in all, I loved the messy, crazy over-the-top quality of it all. Patrick Caldwell, who plays Coach Snell/other characters through out, landing each with his Jim Carrey-esque sense of absurd comedy. I would be remiss not to mention the singing Zombie played by Davis who had audience members belly laughing in their seats. The cast gave their heart and soul to this production and it showed. Their vocal chops were abundant and apparent. The show could use some sharpening and fine-tuning in places, but all audience members including myself left the show having had a great time.
What I especially loved about this production was its main message stated clearly without being overly preachy- that women and girls do not need a significant other to make them whole. They are perfect just as they are. This needs to be said more often and I was happy to see it done here. If you have a soft spot in your heart for camp and silly onstage antics with a serious message, then you will love this show.
The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends–Book and Lyrics by Annie Pulsipher; Direction by Stephen M. Eckert.
WITH: Heather Sawyer as Stella, Alia Cuadros-Contreras as Grace, Zoe Dean as Madison, Will Einbinder as Lucian, Hagan Oliveras as Silence, Patrick Voss Davis as Zach, Stephanie Hawkins as Smiley Cindy Track, and Patrick Swailes Caldwell as Coach Snell Track. The production features scenic design by Lex Gernon-Wyatt, costume design by Olivia Hern, and lighting design by Andrew DG Hunt. Alex Petti is the sound designer and Emily Bubeck is the stage manager. Publicity by Katie Rosin/Kampfire PR.
THE TROUBLE WITH DEAD BOYFRIENDS plays the following regular schedule through Sunday, July 16th: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m at The Players Theatre. 115 MacDougal Street NY, NY.
Please note: The Sunday June 25th matinee of The Trouble with Dead Boyfriends will move to Saturday June 24th at 2:00pm
Tickets are $42-62 and are now available online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1138742 or by calling 212-475-1449. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater a half hour prior to the performance.
Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes (Including intermission)