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‘Monster Bash’ is interactive, fast paced

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Published: Thu, September 27, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

Staff report


If you’re looking for live entertainment that’s zany, fresh and interactive, comedy writer-director Michael Dempsey has just the ticket.

Dempsey’s new SmashUp Entertainment Group is what he describes as a “fast and furious, off-the-rails roller coaster of a theater company.”

SmashUp creates professional, interactive comedy-driven events. Dempsey calls them “smash-ups” because they are a collision of music, slapstick, spectacle and improv.

“Our goal is to create outrageous originals, unhinged adaptations of your favorite stories and out-of-the-box mash-up musicals that are unlike anything else offered in the Mahoning Valley,” said the Boardman resident.

A successful TV sitcom writer (“Cybill,” “The George Wendt Show”) and playwright, Dempsey created SmashUp to satisfy the growing demand for participatory and immersive entertainment.

“Video games, escape rooms, flash mobs, cosplay… Interactive art is the new normal,” he said.

Dempsey cites Punchdrunk Theatre Company’s “Sleep No More,” which mashes “Macbeth” with film noir and haunted house fun in a five-story warehouse. Another inspiration was Los Angeles’ Troubadour Theatre Company, which, like Dempsey, combines popular songs, re-written lyrics and classic stories to create wild offerings like “Santa Claus Is Coming To Motown,” “Alice In One-Hit Wonderland,” As U2 Like It” and “Fleetwood Macbeth.”

What sparked Dempsey to start SmashUp was his 2016 production of “The Rocky Horror Show” at Salem Community Theatre. “The audiences were so alive,” he said. “Talking back to the actors, singing, dancing – it was a blast. I wanted to harness that energy and enthusiasm.”

Dempsey decided to start with interactive murder-mystery dinner theater events, “but elevate them into something next-level.”

He found kindred spirits in the people at Magic Tree Pub and Eatery in Boardman. “Their three-course show meals are creative and delicious,” he said. Their first collaborative venture, December’s “Murder In Toyland,” sold out.

This season, Dempsey and Magic Tree will present three holiday-themed productions.

“Murder At The Monster Bash” is Halloween show, is first. Dempsey described the original show.

“Patrons are guests at a surprise party for Dracula’s 600th deathday,” said Dempsey.

“The Bride of Frankenstein is a sharp-tongued, martini-guzzling social climber who’s left her monster husband,” he said. “Both have brought dates, which incites jealousy and back-biting. Dracula’s depressed over his love life – modern women are revolted by his centuries-old pick-up lines. Dr. Jekyll’s a recovering ‘potion addict’ who attends Mad Scientists Anonymous. The ‘Wolfman of Wall Street’ is a financial tycoon trying to forget his peasant-eating past. Crypt ghouls keep interrupting the party with impromptu musical numbers, and of course, there’s a haunted homicide for the audience to solve.”

Dempsey says that while audiences are not required to participate, they usually get a kick out of being dragged into the action in some way.”

“Murder at the Monster Bash” features a veteran cast, including Eric Kibler, Tom O’Donnell, Liz Conrad, Terry Shears, Jenna Cintavey, James Ballor, Jeremiah Kibler, Mark Frost and Erica Perna.

“Murder At The Monster Bash” runs Oct. 10, 11 and 12 at 6:30 p.m. The $50 ticket is all-inclusive, featuring a professional show, three-course meal, musical entertainment, games, a costume contest and prizes.

Reservations can made online at https://conta.cc/2LHRNw8 or at the “Murder At The Monster Bash” event on Facebook. Magic Tree Pub and Eatery is at 7463 South Ave.

In December, SmashUp will offer a Christmas cooking competition turned deadly in “Murder In Toyland 2: Fruitcake, Bloody Fruitcake.” In February, guests will set sail for a Valentine’s Day cruise turned disaster on “The Lust Boat.”

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