Following successful runs in L.A. and Chicago, the demented holiday musical revue Christmas Smackdown (a.k.a. The Christmas Suicide Hotel) is opening in New York City this weekend for two nights only.
Co-written by Mark Nutter, writer/composer of the twisted hit Re-Animator: The Musical, it also marks a reunion for some of that show's co-stars: the multi-talented Jesse Merlin (Dr. Hill), who also recently performed in Exorcistic: The Rock Musical Parody Experiment and the H.P. Lovecraft rock opera Dreams in the Witch House, and co-writer Cynthia Carle (Dr. Harrod), a Broadway performer, recording artist and screenwriter (who also did the choreography for Re-Animator). They are joined by actress and comedienne Lyndsay Hailey, who has appeared in Love is Dead: A NecRomantic Musical Comedy and tours the US in the improv musical The Deltones.
Jesse Merlin & Cynthia Carle in "Re-Animator: The Musical"
Described as “not so much a show for those who hate Christmas as it is a show for those who really, really hate Christmas,” Smackdown is an over-the-top cabaret extravaganza conceived by Nutter and Carle nearly a decade ago as a revolving series of twisted holiday skits and musical numbers.
Nutter & Carle in an early version of "Christmas Smackdown"
“We kept playing around with a different cast of singers, musicians, and comedians,” Nutter told FEARnet. “One year we had a stripper take off her clothes to 'Silver Bells.' The same audience members kept coming back year after year... our non-traditional Christmas show had become a tradition for a lot of folks.”
One of the deranged ditties featured in Smackdown, "The Baby Shredder Song," actually inspired Stuart Gordon, director of the original classic Re-Animator, to enlist Nutter's skills for the musical version, which went on to win the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award and the LA Weekly Theater Award. Here's a hilarious music video for “Baby Shredder,” starring Mark as the inventor of the title device and Cynthia as the horrified patent office manager.
Another bizarro tune from the show is “Severed Swedish Heads,” written by Carle, who recorded a demo version of the song with Re-Animator musical alumni Brian Gillespie and Graham Skipper (who played Herbert West onstage, and recently starred in Joe Begos's cult horror hit Almost Human). You can spot them all in these Re-Animator: The Musical trading cards:
But you can't get a more glowing endorsement of Christmas Smackdown than this quote from Stuart Gordon: "Don't be just another Xmas suicide. Laugh yourself to death at Mark Nutter's and Cynthia Carle's Christmas Smackdown. Then re-animate yourself and see it again!”
Christmas Smackdown is showing two nights only – Thursday, Dec. 19th and Friday, Dec. 20th at 7:30pm. Visit SpinCycleNYC.com for tickets.