Hollywood Fringe (2014) “Scarface The Musical” & “Victorian Courting and Zombies”

One works, one doesn’t.

The one that works works brilliantly by touching all the bases that the other work not only misses but ignores.

Victorian Courting and Zombies” takes up the hardly new conceit of Austin sisters meets “The Walking Dead”, and infuses it with style, wit and a double dose of originality resulting in “The Promenading Dead”.

Scarface The Musical” takes the promising premise of an all singing, all dancing Tony Montana from Brian De Palma’s 1983 gangster classic, and manages to squander all the potential it possesses.

Victorian Courting and Zombies” presents a strong ensemble with numerous standouts such as Diana Varco, Susan Sassi and David Kerns as the three sisters desperate to make a good marriage, their family’s last hope to retain its social station. Blake Hogue is superb as the target of this matrimonial plotting, Mr. Bingsley, who does happen to be a brain munching zombie, and Kat Palardy as the vamp Ardelia, who nearly brings the house down with her powerhouse performance. With book by Sassi and a robust and ribald score by Bryan Blaskie, director Gina Ippolito and her cast have mined their premise to the mother lode, resulting in an eloquently entertaining production.

On the other hand, “Scarface: the Musical” is so vapid and unfulfilled that had the cast not shown up for the performance it might have been an improvement. Chris O’Neill is credited with having written and directed the show, but I saw nothing on stage to substantiate these claims. It was less a show, and more a group of people milling about on stage for no apparent reason.

Last year’s hit, “Silence”, got amazing mileage from parodying the nuances of “Silence of the Lambs”. The lesson was lost on those who staged “Scarface”. There is no reference to “The World is Yours”, no parody of “The Skull” (played so precisely by Geno Silva) and only one slender reference to De Palma’s film holding the record of use of a certain expletive beginning in “f” and ending in “k”.

Whereas “Victorian Courting and Zombies” committed fully to the premise of their show, I came away from “Scarface” doubting if the cast had ever seen the De Palma film.