It all started with the TV series American Horror Story. One day Andrew Barrett Cox, a junior visual and media arts major, was staring at a picture of Kit Evan Peter’s, the show deeply disturbed heartthrob, when he realized that he had seen the picture before.
The photo mimicked Macaulay Culkin’s photoshoot he premiered in Party Monster, a movie about Club Kids. Club Kids were a posse of party animals during the ‘90’s in New York City who were infamous for their pop parties, drug use, and scandalous costumes. Their leaders were Michael Alig and James St. James. Barrett Cox’s recognition of this connection sparked an interest and soon the obsession, the research, and the writing began.
Now, one summer and one semester later, Barrett Cox with the help of Jacob Porter, a senior marketing communication major, have produced the musical Clubland which premiered Monday at the Oberon American Repertory Theater.
The show is a rendition of Disco Bloodbath, the autobiography of James St. James, an original Club Kid. It is James St. James’ story of how he met Alig and introduced him to the glamorous club scene. However Alig’s fast ride to the top came with a price. Michael became wrapped up with the fame and the glitter and turned into a severe drug user. One night he went too far and gruesomely murdered Angel, one of his fellow Club Kids. Alig threw Angels’ chopped up body in a box and dumped it in the river.
“While it is a very vulgar story, Andrew and Jacob do it in a tasteful way”, said Norelle Cretarolo, a sophomore marketing communication major.
Barrett Cox provides us with a narrator, James St. James, (Chris Renalds) who takes us through the thrill of partying with the Club Kids and the horror of Angel’s (Emmanuel Avellanet) murder by Alig (Charles Mantione), his companion.
The actors were a mix of Emerson students, Boston Conservatory students, and one professional actor.
During rehearsals the cast practiced stumble throughs, and dance numbers.
“The choreography has unexpected, hard-hitting, fast movements,” Cretarolo said “we have to practice a lot.”
Woven throughout the show are eccentirc songs and dances. One that stood out was Alig’s moment of loyalty where he confesses his love for Keoki (Tyler Whitaker), the sexy DJ. He filled the club with his voice and the crowd lifted him up into the air. Another was Jenny’s (Shea Gomez) song wherein she expresses her affection for Keoki.
“Shea Gomez’s performance of her song was my favorite moment. Her impressive vocals, breathtaking beauty, and over the top character belonged on a broadway stage” said Jon Allen, a junior marketing major.
The girls wore tutus and bejewelled bras and the guys wore short shorts, crop tops, leopard, sequins, hot pink lipstick and blue eye shadow. One of the dancers wore taped Xs covering her nipples and black leather panties with a zipper on the crotch. Cretarolo said that for her costume she grabbed caution tape off of the street and wrapped it around her body.
The show was extremely interactive as actors jumped on top of tables and danced, and sometimes knocked over the audiences’ drinks. But the actors weren’t the only ones having a good time.
“I want the energy to be like The Rocky Horror Picture show, where the crowd has fun,” said Barrett Cox.
They became part of the cast as Alig and James St. James’ followers. When the show was over, they didn’t want to leave the dancefloor. The DJ kept the music going, and the audience danced until they were forced to leave.
James St. James gave Barrett Cox the approval to write a musical about his story, and told him that he dreamed his story would either be on Saturday Morning or turned into a Broadway musical.