Sunday, October 5, 2014

"A Nightmare on Backstreet: A Boy Band Musical Parody" coming to Chicago's Public House Theatre

Photo by Patrick Lothian
By ERIC SCHELKOPF 

Just in time for Halloween, "A Nightmare on Backstreet: A Boy Band Musical Parody" takes the story and characters of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and sets it to the music of the Backstreet Boys.

The show will be presented Oct. 17-Nov. 1 at The Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago. Tickets are $15, available by calling 1-800-650-6449, or going to www.pubhousetheatre.com. 

I had the chance to talk to writer and co-director Ricky Glore about the upcoming show. 

Q - How long have you been thinking of the idea for the show? What made you want to do the show? 

I have always loved the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie series. It is the best horror series, hands down.

I was shown the movies at probably too young of an age, but even then I knew that they were scarier than the others. With Michael and Jason, you have a nightmare about them, and you wake up and think, "Oh, well they're not real, nothing to be afraid of. With Freddy, if you have a nightmare about him, you're going through EXACTLY what the kids go through in the movies...very terrifying.


A big inspiration for this production was a couple of shows that the Scooty and JoJo Show had done, "Alien Queen" and "Carpenters Halloween," a couple of musical parody shows. I had seen "Alien Queen" years ago when they first did it, and thought, "I'd love to do that with something I really loved and was passionate about."

While sitting in full costume, waiting to perform in a Public House Theatre show called "Bouncers," which ran in May of this year, I had the idea...combine "Elm Street" with Backstreet Boys, and make it "A Nightmare On Backstreet." Originally I just had the title, and was lucky to run into the owner/artistic director of the theatre, Byron Hatfield, out in the lobby.

I did a quick pitch to him of the show and told him that I'd love to do it in October. Lucky for me, he seemed to really dig the idea, and probably could see how amped up I was, and right there, agreed to produce and put it up.

In just two days I had the first draft completed. The more and more I wrote, the more and more it became clear how eerily well Backstreet Boy songs fit with the original "Elm Street" film. 

Q - Is the show coming together as you envisioned? How did you go about picking the cast and what do you think they bring to the show? 

One thing I do as a writer, which isn't the best thing to do, is envision how the show would be produced, with everything I write. I'm always writing thinking, "Oh yeah, this will get put on stage."

This is a good thing and a bad thing. It's good if I end up directing the show, because I have made it a lot easier and feasible to stage, it's bad for the writer in me, because I think I self edit during the writing process, and this is never good.

The show is coming together very nicely. Since I'm a nerd of the "Elm Street" series, I know how some of the practical special effects were done.

That's what is great about '80s horror films...NO CGI! I am able to reproduce a few of the special effects that were done, because they were practical effects.

We held auditions in July, and had a great turn out of all kinds of actors. The show has a great deal of dancing and singing, but we also had to find that balance of comedic timing and charm as well.

After casting the show, I found out that for many of them, this was going to be their first show as Chicagoans, and that is something I think that is brought out in the performances. You can really see how hungry and energetic these performances are.

I'm not sure if you know this, but the first "Elm Street," was the film debut of Johnny Depp. Like the movie, we have a Chicago debut of Noah Evans Arnold, who just turned 18 in July, playing the character, affectionately named as an homage, Depp.

With the newbies to Chicago, we also have some great seasoned performers like Ali Delianides, Brenda Scott, Megan Renner and Andre DuBois. 

Q - I see that the show is being promoted on the official website for "Nightmare on Elm Street." Did you ever expect something like that? Is that a badge of honor for you? 

Huge badge! Seeing that was surreal.

I have seen on some of the "Elm Street" fan pages on Facebook and whatnot, that you have two different mindsets from the fans; some are really excited to see a staged version, and the others are not happy about the aspects of Freddy being a musical, and having that music being Backstreet Boys.

I want to assure any fan skeptics, that this project is being done by someone with a love for the film series, and that they shouldn't be worried. 

Q - You seem to be a pretty dedicated fan of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies. What kind of impact did they have on you when you first watched them and how do you think they stand up today? 

As I stated before, I think the "Elm Street" series is hands down the best horror movie series. They are so much more cerebral than all of the others.

If I had to pick which one was my favorite, I think I'd have to go with the fan favorite number 3, "Dream Warriors." I think they hold up and there hasn't been a horror series like it since.

The 2010 remake tried to recapture the magic, but came no where close. I will say that it is quite interesting to see all of the merchandise and kids dressed up as Freddy on Halloween, considering he was a child murderer... 

Q - You have done stand-up comedy in the past. Why do you think Chicago is such a strong breeding ground for comedians? 

Before moving to Chicago in 2010, I did stand-up in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area for about six years. I was really fortunate to work as an MC at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Newport, KY, and have the opportunity to work with a lot of my idols. During my college years, I was able to get training in improv from NKU Theatre Chair, Ken Jones, and that is what really fueled my want and need to move to Chicago.

I was always a fan of The Second City and iO (formally Improv Olympics), and worshipped all of the greats that came through both of those institutions. When I moved up, I got a job serving at Second City and began to take classes there and at iO. 


Nothing was better than watching the likes of Emily Wilson, Tim Mason and Tim Robbins destroying the stage at Second City. It was also really cool to see S.N.L come through and hire people from these stages.

Being two feet away from Lorne Michaels, is a sobering experience to a kid from Kentucky, who grew up idolizing Phil Hartman and Saturday Night Live.

Sorry, I haven't really answered your question of why I think Chicago is such a strong breeding ground for comedians...hmmm... Well, all I can speak from is my experience, and what I knew when I moved up, and from what I know now, is that this is where it is at.

Besides having the institutions that are churning out comedy (The Public House Theatre being a new player to the game, in a big bad way, trust me), you have so many like minded people that are all excited to create. I think that's what brought me here.

It's the Disney World for smart asses and people who still use there imagination for comedy. I guess to simplify it in one word...LEGACY. 

Q - Speaking of comedy, you had the opportunity to meet Robin Williams. What was that experience like and what did you come away with after talking to him? 

My dad took me to go see a show of his in Cincinnati, about five years ago. The man did two-and-a- half-hours of material, non-stop, by himself!

I have never seen anything like this in my life. Not everything he said was funny, but that was OK because he says a thousand things a minute, so he rebounds pretty quickly.

I was fortunate to meet with him after the show, and what really struck me, was how much he engaged me in conversation. He asked me what I did, and when I told him I was an actor and comedian, he asked what the last thing I worked on was. I told him that we just closed "Of Mice And Men" at my college, and then for about 30 minutes, we talked about the show and his love for Steinbeck.

In the final moments of our conversation, I let him know how much of an inspiration he was for me and that his films brought me a tremendous amount of joy. He was extremely humble and stated that, that was the reason why he performed, to make others happy.

I told him that what I really loved about his work was that I literally could grow up with it. He asked what I meant, and I said, "When I was little, I loved 'Mork and Mindy,'  'Aladdin,' and 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' and as I got older and matured, I loved 'Patch Adams,' 'Dead Poets Society,' 'Good Will Hunting,' and my ultimate favorite, 'A World According to Garp.' "

He laughed and looked at my dad and said something to the effect of, "I guess your to blame for showing him all of those?" We all laughed and said thanks.

As my dad and I walked away, I just marveled at how humbled and human he was. When I found out about his passing I was saddened for numerous reasons, but one reason was a selfish reason...I couldn't grow up any more with him.

It still will be a while until I'm able to watch "What Dreams May Come."