TAP Light Production’s “The Ballad of Michele Myers” goes for the jugular
The genre of the spoof slasher storyline is one always ripe for mining come Halloween season, and this year in the absence of The Primitive Screwheads annual offering, Raya Light and Todd Pickering stepped up to fill the void with their collaborative “The Ballad of Michele Myers.” A cheeky blend of high camp and low blows mixed into a frothy, bloody cocktail of makeovers and machetes, “Ballad” satiates that unique craving for slutty Nancy Reagan costumes, updated Aretha Franklin covers, and buckets of stage blood. Plus it gives trans-folk a misunderstood serial killer to call their very own. You’ve come a long way, baby!
You definitely don’t need to have ever seen a Halloween film featuring Michael Myers in order to follow the events unfolding onstage. “Ballad” amusingly mashes up references from a broad swath of pop culture’s most recognizable tropes including “Friday the 13th,” “The Facts of Life,” and “South Park,” with musical nods to Warren Zevon, Amanda Palmer, Tom Lehrer, and even Hall and Oates. Four moody teenage girls (three mean, one misfit) wind up at Camp Crystal Lake with their scatter-brained, spinsterish chaperone Mrs. Skerritt (Audra Wolfmann), in order to attend a ghastly adolescent rite of passage called “The Pumpkin Prance”. The queen bee of the clique is naturally named Heather (Trixxie Carr), a shapely package of malice and spite, who makes her long-suffering, if equally bitchy, besties Pat (Raya Light, in a fat suit) and Koochi (the formidable Miss Rahni) seem downright saintly.
After terrifying her impressionable charges with a spooky story about the mythical “Michele Myers” who supposedly haunts the Camp, Mrs. Skerritt conveniently disappears, leaving the lasses to their own devices, and setting the stage for some epic teen bullying and a surprise revelation from picked-on misfit Joe (Flynn Witmeyer) that she’s actually a he. Yes, dude looks like a lady (with a mullet), and furthermore, has a crush on Heather, who repays Joe’s advances by setting him up to get bashed: dressing him up in a hot pink, glam rock princess outfit and orchestrating a rowdy game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” with a posse of doltish boyfriends.
That this sordid chain of events reverberates back to the legend of Michele (Kai Medieros) is lost on our “heroes” until she shows up to stab one of the clueless horndogs in the back and the chase is on! Mayhem ensues, plus extreme makeovers, shocking revelations, and the obligatory “Thriller”-inspired dance bit, while blood and accusations fly through the air. With its hilariously upbeat musical score (Todd Pickering), shrewd costuming (Daniella Turner and Joe Adame) and a cast packed with Thrillpeddlers’ alumni who know their way around a salacious splatterfest, “The Ballad of Michele Myers” satiates all expectations, and heralds (hopefully) the birth of a new Bay Area Halloween tradition. You know we can always use just one more.