Event Report: “ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL” Roadshow in NYC!Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Ken W. Hanley No Comment
Make no mistake: fans of THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL are the real deal. Arriving nearly an hour before doors were supposed to open, I discovered a line that went around a building and, knowing that reaching the box office would be a futile effort, found a spot among the crowd. About 15 minutes later, the line pulled around the corner, revealing an even longer line in the pit near the entrance of the Beekman theater. Fans were in costume, many more adorning DEVIL’S CARNIVAL apparel and all of whom seemed to be buzzing with excitement.
In the interest of disclosure, I never had previously caught the first DEVIL’S CARNIVAL roadshow, nor the REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA live events either. I caught the latter from Netflix when I was using their disc delivery service many years back, and I caught the former on Netflix Instant. While I can’t say I was as passionate of a fan of either as those in attendance at New York’s ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL Roadshow, there was much that I admired about both productions, especially considering that imaginative, original operatic productions such as these had virtually become non-existent in the new millennium. To add that both DEVIL’S CARNIVAL films were done at an independent level is simply more evidence that ALLELUIA! and the accompanying tour were driven by passion and fan support.
And as I could tell, there was lots and lots of fan support for ALLELUIA!, and after meeting up with some other New York-based horror folk and FANGORIA friends, we awaited entrance as the line grew in front of our eyes. While things may have taken a bit longer than expected (which was complicated by an accompanying heat wave), eventually, they let the crowd in. FANGORIA caught the tail end of the VIP experience of the ALLELUIA! Roadshow, which appeared as intimate as advertised: the fan interaction was direct and immersive, giving fans a chance to interact face-to-face with director Darren Lynn Bousman, writer/performer Terrance Zdunich and special guests Kristina Klebe, Emilie Autumn and Marc Senter. The mood was light, the fans were beyond excited to be a part of this exclusive opportunity, and soon after, the rest of the crowd poured into the theater and the show began…
But before the film would roll, ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL’s tour had to live up to its name first, offering a pair of opening acts for the fervent fans in attendance. The first was the mild of the two, with a vaudevillian magic act involving a balloon that was short but sweet. The second, however, was a contortionist, whose act of bending and twisting his body in inconceivable ways was a shocking delight to behold, and truly set the mood for the night to come. Following a costume contest and a montage of karaoke contest winners, Bousman and Zdunich returned to the stage to welcome the crowd and provide a little context for those who hadn’t seen the first film before the lights went down and the film began.
ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL felt like an organic extension of the first film, even if everything felt much bigger. From the production design to the musical numbers to the performers on display, ALLELUIA! felt much more epic, refined and confident effort this time around, and fans were excited to explore the “heaven” of the DEVIL’S CARNIVAL universe, in which the film largely takes place. And while the film does have its issues, particularly the anti-climactic ending and the eschewing of the “carnival” aspect in favor of world-building, ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL was definitely a crowd pleaser among the audience, with the infectious musical numbers and characters old & new (including music vets Ted Neeley, Barry Bostwick, David Hasselhoff and Tech N9ne) to create an interactive, midnight movie-esque experience for fans of horror and musical theater alike to savor.
Following the film, Bousman, Zdunich, Autumn, Klebe and Senter returned for an audience Q&A, sharing stories about their trials and tribulations making the first DEVIL’S CARNIVAL, hinting at future projects and collaborations (including a potential third DEVIL’S CARNIVAL for 2017) and stories about make-up mishaps regarding Zdunich’s 8-hour transformation into ALLELUIA!’s Lucifer. However, the highlight of the Q&A came from an audience member’s question about their most memorable moment from ALLELUIA, spurring on each guest to share their favorite Hasselhoff memory on set. After a few more questions and anecdotes, ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL roadshow came to a close, with fans aggregating outside of the theater to share their enthusiastic film responses to one another. While ALLELUIA! THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL isn’t for everyone, if it’s your thing, it’s your thing all the way and you won’t want to miss it.