A&E

Bringing ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog to the stage’

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Dr. Horrible’s— onstage now at Onyx Theatre
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore
Jacob Coakley

Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was one of the first web series to reach critical mass and has become a genuine pop-culture phenomenon. Its tale of a love-struck villain wannabe and the girl of his dreams—told in the style of a video blog—has spawned comic books, a DVD and now a fully-licensed stage extravaganza. Albeit, one that makes a theater company work to put it on.

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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
May 12-13, 8 p.m.; May 14, 5 & 8 p.m.; $15
Onyx Theatre, 732-7225

“They don’t supply you with anything,” laughs director and Las Vegas newcomer Sirc Michaels. “What they do is they go ‘Okay, off you go, good luck.’”

Michaels took the challenge and ran with it. After working with Timescience Bloodclub (Whedon’s production company) to iron out a contract, he partnered with Off-Strip Productions (the producing arm of Onyx Theatre) to bring the blog to the stage. He scoured the internet for fan-made scores and arrangements, and now has what he believes is the first ever fully licensed stage production of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

“This is completely what they envision the show to be onstage,” Michaels says. “With the exception of the style of it, which is mine, the show is fully endorsed and authorized.”

Because the show itself is only around 45 minutes, Michaels and his team also shot a lo-fi movie adaptation of the comic book “prequels” to Dr. Horrible’s, which function both as a pre-curtain show and a way to get people unfamiliar with the phenomenon up to speed. Every show is also preceded by a costume contest—did I mention that Dr. Horrible’s has some truly dedicated fans? People coming to the show in costume as their favorite character, or even as an applicant to the Evil League of Evil, have a chance to show off their stuff to win a DVD of the pre-show movie, along with a copy of the stage show, shot live each night. “We put a lot of effort into making an entire evening of it,” Michaels says.

The night I saw it, the crowd ate it up. Though the production was plagued with technical issues—not-so-strong singers weren’t helped by a flaky mic system and a bad mix—the packed house didn’t seem to mind. Fans didn’t just sing along to the chorus; they gladly (and without direction) filled out the sound with harmonized backing vocals. If the staging didn’t capture the sweetness and anxiety of the film, the audience filled in the gaps on its own. The crowd’s love for the characters and story bears the production along—and that brings with it a sweetness of its own.

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