Landless Theater Company is putting on a stage production of Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, the one-shot mini-movie that Joss Whedon and others put together during the writer’s strike some years ago. If you’re going to ask the question about “why should this be a stage production” I can’t think of a harder test case than something that you can stream on the internet at any given moment in time. There you get the original stars – Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion – recorded and produced music, special effects etc and so on.
But you know what? I think if you love the original work you should go see this. If you previously had an interest in seeing it on stage you should certainly not miss it - Mutant Enemy has recently put a hold on licensing productions and the speculation is that this is because they’re looking into doing their own big-budget stage show.
Let’s not kid – part of my recommendation is the price. My tolerance for flaws is going to be greater at $25, whether they be in performance or in basic concept. It’s not a get-out-of-quality-free card but if you ask me to pick between a mediocre production at a big theater that’ll cost me 3 and a half hours of my life on top of a $100 ticket I am going to be asking a lot more of you than a 90 minute no-intermission show for $25. You can skate a lot farther on simple passion with the second one.
And there’s some skating here at Landless to be sure. They could have opted to pack the cast with super singers and really knock these numbers out of the park. Instead we’ve got a number of good but not great numbers that picked fun and a physical look and type for the Billy, Penny, and Hammer roles. But they’re clearly having fun and doing a good job inhabiting the roles.
That’s not really the best reason to go, though. The stage production brings a new song f0r a minor character that isn’t in the original as well as a sung “Commentary!” that’s presented in the breaks between the three acts. Some of those you can catch on the DVD version of Dr Horrible and at least one seems to be newly written by the Whedon folks to be used in licensed stage productions like this one. Landless also chooses some really fun and funny ways to deal with the fact that they don’t have special effects and camera tricks. You get big points from me for using the nature of theater to present things rather than trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and ape tv and movies.
So for me the calculations add up to a chance to share the experience with other fan-nerds and a reasonable price that helps a local theater company keep putting on other productions. If you’re not already a fan then oh my Grod no, don’t go. This isn’t for you. This is fan service to a T – stuff that will gratify folks already inclined to like it and providing more even if it’s not in the service of the quality of the work. That doesn’t make it bad (or good) by itself – it just makes it specialized. If you’re in that target audience you’re going to be entertained.
Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog
runs through March 27th at the DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW
7:30pm Thursday through Sunday.
Tickets are currently all sold out; we’ll alert you if we hear of an extension.