Cannibal, The Musical Serves up a Delicious Meal at Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas Theatre
Professional Theatre

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Trey Parker

From the co-creator of South Park and The Book of Mormon, comes the “All Singing! All Dancing! All Flesh Eating!” Trey Parkers’ Cannibal! The Musical, live on stage. This is based on the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America - Alferd Packer (Yes, Alferd, not Alfred, calm down). The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Pry (Meg Martinez) as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs and a couple of showstoppers, or should I say snowstoppers. Thank you.

Sometimes you just have to let your hair down. Sometimes a theatrical piece is not going to win the Nobel prize, but sometimes it is fun to just be silly. Director Patrick Ciamacco, the brainchild behind the Laughter League, a renowned comedy sketch group, dives in head first to create a hot mess of fun. We are living in some tense times. But, if you need a break from watching the ice caps melt, get your behind to see Cannibal! The Musical at Blank Canvas Theatre NOW! Warning, this is definitely some silly stuff, but if you don’t get that from the title, then you need to experiment and sit in the splatter zone. Yes. Splatter Zone. Yes. Blood.

Every actor in this show is a firkin scream and has some kind of moment that is a beautiful hot mess. The ensemble work going on here is among the best I have seen. Everyone is completely immersed in this insane world. The characterizations are all on point, and beautifully funny.

Noah Hrbek as Alfred Packer leads this cast of crazies with confident aplomb. His voice has never sounded better, and his projected innocent quality of humanity works perfectly in this piece. As the love interest, he charms his way into your hearts, and well as ending up eating them. Stephen Berg has a fantastic time playing Shannon Bell, the Mormon Priest who tries his best to contribute spiritually to the journey, but ends up a bit “stressed out”. Berg plays his character's arc to the hilt, and provide plenty of humor as a result. Antonio DeJesus pretty much delivers a puberty driven George Noon to the proceedings. His country-fried twang is a hoot, and the way in which he handles having his privates disheveled is pure joy.  

David Turner turns in one hell of a tap number, and one of the show stoppers, by kick-ball shuffling his way into our hearts as the Optimist Isreal Swan. What a scream. Danny Simpson gives us James Humphrey, a reluctant participant. Humphrey’s character seems to be the love child of Pee Wee Herman and Linda Belcher, the result being a delightful hot mess of idiot hall of famery. Joe Kenderes brings his manly nature to Frank Miller, the butcher. He adds mightily to the journey, providing lots of delightful stress and bravado. Reporter Polly Pry is beautifully played by Meg Martinez in both person and character. She is the perfect confidant to Packer, packs a clarion voice, and surprises everyone with a penchant for horseplay. Logan Honsaker, as the leader of the bad pack Frenchy Cabazon, not only shaves the pelt off of trapped animals but also his chest, as his bad guy personae is a frickin delight. His voice and dance moves are a joyful combination of surprise entertainment. Jay Lee as the Chief is a hoot and a half. Beautiful character hilarity.

Some of these folks play multiple roles in the show. Starting us off is Venchise Phillips, she is certainly highlighted when she gets her hoofs in an uproar as Liane, the horse. Yes. This is quite the love story interest, and Phillips carries it off with great humor, and physicality. She carries Packer around like he weighs 10 pounds, so don’t piss her off. Donnell James is serving up multiple roles as well, but he peaks as Nutter, a member of the bad trapper gang. Within Mark Majercik’s multiple personalities, the Doomed Guy is brought to over the top to hilarity. Grace Mitri was a blast in every role she inhabited. Whether Noon’s Mom, Clerk, or the Judge. She was serving up massive amounts of fun.

Director Ciamacco, who also serves as the Artistic Director, brought a script that had nothing but lines and no orchestrations to life with blissful design and by creating a comedic romper room. The show moves well, and the blood effects are not overdone, but just enough to let the “splatter zone” get covered in washable blood. Musical Director Matt Dolan creatively birthed orchestrations and a band where none existed. The music greatly adds to the fun. Choreographer Zac Hudak did a tremendous job bringing the show numbers to life. The tap number will be giving me life for days. Stage Manager Tiffany Trapnell called a great show and kept this cattle call of insanity in line. Costume Designer Jill Kenderes hit all of the marks with relish. Also, Ciamacco added his skill to the production end as well by providing Special Effects (along with Hrbek and P. J. Toomey), Sound, Lighting, Projection (Hrbek), and Set Design, as well as Tech Director. I find this amazing since I can’t even rotate my wardrobe by season without assistance. Hrbek also painted the Scenic Back Drop. Again, I can’t rotate.

Soooooooooooooooo, just get the heck to the theatre and laugh. It’s like theatrical silly string, it won’t change the world, but it is a hell of a lot of fun!

Photo Credit: Andy Dudik

Ticket Information
and Promotional Materials

Runs through October 27


8pm Thursdays
8pm Fridays
8pm Saturdays
7pm Sundays

Runtime: 1h 35m
Content Advisories: Adult Content, SPLATTER ZONE

$18 General Admission

(440) 941-0458
Order Tickets Online

Blank Canvas Theatre
1305 West 80th Street, Suite 211
Cleveland, OH 44102