Everything about “Killer Rack,” the new musical that opened at Alleyway Thursday night, should scare you. A stage adaptation of a horror movie about a flat-chested woman who gets breast augmentation surgery, only to discover that her implants have the power to kill men.
It shouldn’t work on the stage, even by horror-camp standards. It bills itself as a “feminist horror musical comedy,” which is certainly tempting, however with three males at the helm—between the film’s screenwriter, director and the musical’s sole writer, Neal Radice—one must question its feminist positions. (Heather Reed serves as choreographer, and co-stars.)
There’s nothing overtly offensive toward women, to be fair. It promotes female empowerment above all else. (If you catch whiffs of “9 to 5,” “Little Shop of Horrors” or “Sweeney Todd,” you’re on the right path.)
Still, a female perspective on chauvinism wouldn’t have been hard to find. For instance, it should be the leading lady—and not her boyfriend—who gets to react to her newly filled-out body.
Radice, who not only wrote the show but music directed his own score into a pre-recorded, computerized accompaniment, also directs. If only we could hear these punchy songs played by real musicians. For the most part, Radice’s concoction works very well. It moves along swiftly on an efficient set designed by—you guessed it—Neal Radice.
Emily Yancey’s leading performance is a revelation. She is a fine comedian with earned emotion and killer instincts. I can’t wait to see more of her work. She is joined by a hard-working ensemble, with hilarious turns from Joey Bucheker, James Cichocki and Andrew Zucarri. But Kim Piazza’s turn as the devious plastic surgeon is too refined. Her songs are the weakest, but her enunciated style, though finely executed, doesn’t fit this mold.
With some revisions, this show could really kill. Congratulations on an impressive world premiere.
“Killer Rack” by Neal Radice
3 stars (out of four)
Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley. Runs through Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Tickets available online and by phone. Tickets: $32 to $16. 852.2600