Entertainment » Theatre

The Unauthorized Musical Parody of 'Hocus Pocus'

by Harker Jones
Wednesday Oct 11, 2017
The Unauthorized Musical Parody of 'Hocus Pocus'

After affectionately skewering beloved films like "Bridesmaids," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Cruel Intentions," "Scream" and "Troop Beverly Hills," "The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of" troupe turns its attention to a family (and gay) Halloween classic, "Hocus Pocus."

While initially a critical and commercial failure, the 1993 film found a home in the hearts of a generation while running on television annually through the rest of the '90s, which is good because it's a charming, sassy gem with star power to spare.

A prologue set in 1693 Salem sets up the evil, witchy Sanderson Sisters, Winifred (played in the film by Oscar nominee Bette Midler and onstage by Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur); Sarah (played in the film by the erstwhile Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker, and onstage by Haviland Stillwell); and Mary (played in the film by "Sister Act" scene-stealer Kathy Najimy and onstage by Gina D'Acciaro) as they kill a young girl named Emily and turn her brother into an immortal black cat, who oversees the sisters' cottage so no one can resurrect them.

Fast-forward 300 years as teenage Max Dennison (Jordan Goodsell) and his kid sister, Dani (Caitlin Gallogly), move to town and unwittingly set in motion events that not only bring the sisters back but puts their own lives in danger as well.

Under the direction of Peter Allen Vogt (who also plays the narrator onstage) and adapted by writers John Flynn and Kate Pazakis, the show is a bawdy (this may have been a family film but it is definitely an NSFW stage show), irreverent valentine to 1993 with plenty of jokes about the lack of technology -- and the presence of archaic things like Blockbuster video -- and of-the-moment cracks about Trump and paper towels and the awfulness of Taylor Swift's new album.

There are plentiful "Sex and the City" quips in reference to SJP's Sarah ("Sarah's actually a Samantha even though she thinks she's a Carrie"), and Ashley Argota's Allison (played by Vinessa Shaw in the film) is often a punch line as her character as written is just The Girl, with no opinions or thoughts. She's solely there for exposition.

Gallogly is a standout as trick-or-treat authority Dani (played by Thora Birch in the film), and the three witches are superlative. While inhabiting iconic roles originated by pretty iconic actors, Winokur, Stillwell and D'Acciaro pay homage to them while never mimicking them. They get the souls of the feature's performances while still putting their own stamp on their characters.

And yet Tom De Trinis and Spencer Strong Smith, who take on many roles including parents, bullies, siblings and even Satan, are the MVPs of the show. They bring down the house just about every time they open their mouths.

One of the best parts of UMPO's productions is the use of familiar pop songs to develop the characters and move the plot along, and "Hocus Pocus" is no exception. Disparate tunes such as En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" bring back the '90s in a crush of nostalgia. The wigs and makeup are fantastic and clearly high quality, and the onstage live band is electrifying.

"The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus" is another home run and a great night out for Halloween with friends. Let Rockwell Table and Stage cast a spell on you.

"The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus" runs through November 4 at Rockwell Table and Stage, 1714 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. For tickets or information, visit Rockwell-LA.com

10 Days of Halloween

This story is part of our special report titled "10 Days of Halloween." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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