Deadly

Critics

LemonMeter

75 %

Reviews: 18

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL! They were intelligent, ambitious, independent women. It just wouldn't do. 1893. A time of hope and optimism as the World's Fair turns the globe's eyes toward Chicago. But within this cultural explosion of art and technology, a demon lurks beneath. Taking advantage of the modern woman's adventuresome spirit, H.H. Holmes builds a hotel - a murder castle - to entrap and kill unsuspecting ladies new to the big city.

From the team behind the critical and box-office hit Stoneface, playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart (Louis & Keely: Live at the Sahara), composer Ryan Thomas Johnson (Watson), and director Jaime Robledo (Mr. Burns, a post-electric play), DEADLY examines one of the most famous true crime cases in history, through the unlikely lens of the victims' experience.

Reviews

Avatar

Playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart has taken the story of Holmes and treated it to a musical rendering ala Sweeney Todd.Deadly, staged by Sacred Fools Theatre Company, has songs, mayhem and a vicious murderer. What it doesn’t have is a Sondheim, or a workable structure.

sour - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Avatar

The production, six years in the making, features an effectively creepy set by Stephen Gifford with a hotel structure that evokes both a gallows and guillotine. The victims are outfitted in brilliant costumes by Linda Muggeridge. The cast moves to impressive choreography spanning musical numbers and fights to the death through the laudable efforts of choreographers Brin Hamblin and Jo Ann Mendelson.

Sacred Fools has a thing for serial killers. For years it has produced a series called Serial Killers (Season 15 opens in January 2020). The company went all in on Deadly. Mounting an original two-and-a-half-hour musical with a cast of 10, a live orchestra and a lot of moving parts requires massive levels of commitment from dozens of company members. It’s unfortunate that the resulting show feels mean-spirited and plodding.

sweet-sour - Laura Foti Cohen - Larchmont Buzz - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Jaime Robledo does an excellent job in fulfilling writer Vanessa Claire Stewart’s vision.

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Avatar

Sacred Fools Theater Company's world premiere of Deadly, a new musical by playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart and directed by Jaime Robledo, is about the victims of notorious serial killer H. H. Holmes [...] Stewart set out to create a show that focused on the stories of the women gone too soon at the hands of Holmes. And she did just that.

The cast, collectively, is extremely talented and truthful. It was evident that each performer believed in the story they were telling.

sweet - Kelsey Goeres - The Southern California Review - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer

With 22 songs and a running time of more than two-and-a-half hours, Deadly is overwritten. Stewart’s book tries to humanize the victims, but there are too many of them and most feel like sketches rather than actual human beings. Likewise, most of their stories are so similar that the dramatic tension simply flattens out. Johnson’s score might have helped with this, but it always remains in dutiful service to the story, never choosing to try a contrasting tone that might act as commentary.

sweet-sour - Michael Van Duzer - Show Mag - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Vanessa Claire Stewart's brilliant characterizations, of the victims inner strengths and weaknesses are shared during the often-difficult dialogue-based musical numbers by Ryan Thomas Johnson which forward the story line. The entire production is perfectly cast, with technical wizardry abounding thanks to the multi-level set designed by Stephen Gifford, sound design by Cricket S. Myers, lighting design by Andrew Schmedake, projection design by Corwin Evans, and costume design by Linda Muggeridge which allows the audience to easily recognize when the women are speaking in life or from the depths of the basement after succumbing to the wiles of the deadly H.H. Holmes.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder

Under the slick direction of Jamie Robledo, who also helmed Vanessa Claire Stewart’s multi-award-winning  megahit "Stoneface: The Rise and Fall of Buster Keaton" at Sacred Fools several years ago, this impressive new musical retelling of demented 19th century serial killer H.H. Holmes also reunites the duo with composer-musical director Ryan Thomas Johnson.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


David MacDowell Blue

Central to the entire piece breathes and sings (it is a musical recall) an amazing metaphor on many, many levels. Holmes' Castle remains haunted by those he has slaughtered, at least some of them. They turn out to be our protagonists.

sweet - David MacDowell Blue - ...read full review


Avatar

The show offers the women a chance at solidarity, at least. They linger as ghosts, their numbers increasing, their voices intensifying.

Appropriately, the score is devoted mostly to women’s voices, with songs that evoke parlor songs, church hymns, gospel numbers and horror-movie tropes...

Disappointment is in direct proportion to the project’s potential. The dead deserve to be heard. Let them roar.

sweet-sour - Daryl H. Miller - LA Times - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

Stocked with 21 songs (music by Ryan Thomas Johnson), many of which have a similar beat and cadence, the production’s most riveting feature is Keith Allan’s superlative nonmusical performance as the oily and unctuous killer, a man who delights as much in the seduction of his victims as he does in remorselessly observing the life drain from their bodies.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

With an exceptional cast, and an impressive combination of production design, score and narrative, Deadly provides a powerful, thrilling, and moving experience for audiences.

sweet - Lacey Pawlowicz - Haunting - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

With playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart’s, Deadly, now in its world premiere run, Sacred Fools has invested a lot in its swing-for-the-fences production, guided by the always inventive director Jaime Robledo.

sweet-sour - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Avatar

Make no mistake, this cast is professional to a person. They present well delineated characters who are believable in the Gothic context of the script.  High drama calls for broad acting and the acting, the presentation and the characters all meld beautifully.  The songs, however, no matter how enthusiastically presented.. and they are sung with conviction.. are difficult to understand. The parsing and meter of the lyrics is sticky at best. The tune that rings most true is the anthem sung by all the women, "Murder Castle!" Corwin Evans's projections work beautifully throughout, adding color and spice.

sweet-sour - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar

Book writer and lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart has wrought a highly stylized production about America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes (Keith Allan of SYFY Network’s Z Nation series), an actual historic figure. And like Charlie Chaplin’s 1947 Monsieur Verdoux,  Stewart has mixed social commentary with her murder mystery. While Chaplin slyly critiqued capitalism and war, Stewart adds a feminist dimension to her vision. While Holmes’ “victims and their stories vanish into the ether” in his and others’ accounts of their demise, as she writes in the playbill’s author’s note, Stewart gives his female fatalities voices, through dialogue, lyrics and music (composed by musical director Ryan Thomas Johnson).

sweet - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


Avatar

There are seven insanely talented actresses singing (albeit often well out of their respective ranges) and parading around the stage, and 100% delivering on every aspect of the script and musical score, all night long. Intelligent, ambitious, independent, modern women, just like their 1893 counterparts who lived during an exciting historic time of cultural, artistic and technological explosion taking place around them, but who are being upstaged by the very character, the very man, whose gruesome celebrity they are attempting to overcome. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia On the Move - ...read full review


Avatar

In this stage production, it’s the victims that are emphasized here, giving each one a bit of humanistic background of these women, even remaining on stage after their deaths serving as spirits. They are donned in ragtag outfits as designed by Linda Muggeridge that is a blend of “gay 90’s” floozyness, with hints of zombie ware.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

The Demon Doctor of West 63rd Street is bumping off victim after victim at the Broadwater Theatre in Vanessa Claire Stewart and Ryan Thomas Johnson's deliciously horrorific Deadly, or as I like to call it, Murder Castle, the H.H. Holmes Musical. It’s a great start for a show that could easily go on well beyond The Broadwater. It’s that murderously good.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

It’s an ambitious task to give the forgotten victims a voice, but there are too many stories, too many songs and the end result is muddled. A more definitive tone is needed in the writing as on opening night some lines, lyrics and situations elicited unwarranted laughter.

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar

Playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart has taken the story of Holmes and treated it to a musical rendering ala Sweeney Todd.Deadly, staged by Sacred Fools Theatre Company, has songs, mayhem and a vicious murderer. What it doesn’t have is a Sondheim, or a workable structure.

sour - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Avatar

The production, six years in the making, features an effectively creepy set by Stephen Gifford with a hotel structure that evokes both a gallows and guillotine. The victims are outfitted in brilliant costumes by Linda Muggeridge. The cast moves to impressive choreography spanning musical numbers and fights to the death through the laudable efforts of choreographers Brin Hamblin and Jo Ann Mendelson.

Sacred Fools has a thing for serial killers. For years it has produced a series called Serial Killers (Season 15 opens in January 2020). The company went all in on Deadly. Mounting an original two-and-a-half-hour musical with a cast of 10, a live orchestra and a lot of moving parts requires massive levels of commitment from dozens of company members. It’s unfortunate that the resulting show feels mean-spirited and plodding.

sweet-sour - Laura Foti Cohen - Larchmont Buzz - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Jaime Robledo does an excellent job in fulfilling writer Vanessa Claire Stewart’s vision.

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Avatar

Sacred Fools Theater Company's world premiere of Deadly, a new musical by playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart and directed by Jaime Robledo, is about the victims of notorious serial killer H. H. Holmes [...] Stewart set out to create a show that focused on the stories of the women gone too soon at the hands of Holmes. And she did just that.

The cast, collectively, is extremely talented and truthful. It was evident that each performer believed in the story they were telling.

sweet - Kelsey Goeres - The Southern California Review - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer

With 22 songs and a running time of more than two-and-a-half hours, Deadly is overwritten. Stewart’s book tries to humanize the victims, but there are too many of them and most feel like sketches rather than actual human beings. Likewise, most of their stories are so similar that the dramatic tension simply flattens out. Johnson’s score might have helped with this, but it always remains in dutiful service to the story, never choosing to try a contrasting tone that might act as commentary.

sweet-sour - Michael Van Duzer - Show Mag - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Vanessa Claire Stewart's brilliant characterizations, of the victims inner strengths and weaknesses are shared during the often-difficult dialogue-based musical numbers by Ryan Thomas Johnson which forward the story line. The entire production is perfectly cast, with technical wizardry abounding thanks to the multi-level set designed by Stephen Gifford, sound design by Cricket S. Myers, lighting design by Andrew Schmedake, projection design by Corwin Evans, and costume design by Linda Muggeridge which allows the audience to easily recognize when the women are speaking in life or from the depths of the basement after succumbing to the wiles of the deadly H.H. Holmes.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder

Under the slick direction of Jamie Robledo, who also helmed Vanessa Claire Stewart’s multi-award-winning  megahit "Stoneface: The Rise and Fall of Buster Keaton" at Sacred Fools several years ago, this impressive new musical retelling of demented 19th century serial killer H.H. Holmes also reunites the duo with composer-musical director Ryan Thomas Johnson.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


David MacDowell Blue

Central to the entire piece breathes and sings (it is a musical recall) an amazing metaphor on many, many levels. Holmes' Castle remains haunted by those he has slaughtered, at least some of them. They turn out to be our protagonists.

sweet - David MacDowell Blue - ...read full review


Avatar

The show offers the women a chance at solidarity, at least. They linger as ghosts, their numbers increasing, their voices intensifying.

Appropriately, the score is devoted mostly to women’s voices, with songs that evoke parlor songs, church hymns, gospel numbers and horror-movie tropes...

Disappointment is in direct proportion to the project’s potential. The dead deserve to be heard. Let them roar.

sweet-sour - Daryl H. Miller - LA Times - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

Stocked with 21 songs (music by Ryan Thomas Johnson), many of which have a similar beat and cadence, the production’s most riveting feature is Keith Allan’s superlative nonmusical performance as the oily and unctuous killer, a man who delights as much in the seduction of his victims as he does in remorselessly observing the life drain from their bodies.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

With an exceptional cast, and an impressive combination of production design, score and narrative, Deadly provides a powerful, thrilling, and moving experience for audiences.

sweet - Lacey Pawlowicz - Haunting - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

With playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart’s, Deadly, now in its world premiere run, Sacred Fools has invested a lot in its swing-for-the-fences production, guided by the always inventive director Jaime Robledo.

sweet-sour - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Avatar

Make no mistake, this cast is professional to a person. They present well delineated characters who are believable in the Gothic context of the script.  High drama calls for broad acting and the acting, the presentation and the characters all meld beautifully.  The songs, however, no matter how enthusiastically presented.. and they are sung with conviction.. are difficult to understand. The parsing and meter of the lyrics is sticky at best. The tune that rings most true is the anthem sung by all the women, "Murder Castle!" Corwin Evans's projections work beautifully throughout, adding color and spice.

sweet-sour - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar

Book writer and lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart has wrought a highly stylized production about America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes (Keith Allan of SYFY Network’s Z Nation series), an actual historic figure. And like Charlie Chaplin’s 1947 Monsieur Verdoux,  Stewart has mixed social commentary with her murder mystery. While Chaplin slyly critiqued capitalism and war, Stewart adds a feminist dimension to her vision. While Holmes’ “victims and their stories vanish into the ether” in his and others’ accounts of their demise, as she writes in the playbill’s author’s note, Stewart gives his female fatalities voices, through dialogue, lyrics and music (composed by musical director Ryan Thomas Johnson).

sweet - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


Avatar

There are seven insanely talented actresses singing (albeit often well out of their respective ranges) and parading around the stage, and 100% delivering on every aspect of the script and musical score, all night long. Intelligent, ambitious, independent, modern women, just like their 1893 counterparts who lived during an exciting historic time of cultural, artistic and technological explosion taking place around them, but who are being upstaged by the very character, the very man, whose gruesome celebrity they are attempting to overcome. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia On the Move - ...read full review


Avatar

In this stage production, it’s the victims that are emphasized here, giving each one a bit of humanistic background of these women, even remaining on stage after their deaths serving as spirits. They are donned in ragtag outfits as designed by Linda Muggeridge that is a blend of “gay 90’s” floozyness, with hints of zombie ware.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

The Demon Doctor of West 63rd Street is bumping off victim after victim at the Broadwater Theatre in Vanessa Claire Stewart and Ryan Thomas Johnson's deliciously horrorific Deadly, or as I like to call it, Murder Castle, the H.H. Holmes Musical. It’s a great start for a show that could easily go on well beyond The Broadwater. It’s that murderously good.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

It’s an ambitious task to give the forgotten victims a voice, but there are too many stories, too many songs and the end result is muddled. A more definitive tone is needed in the writing as on opening night some lines, lyrics and situations elicited unwarranted laughter.

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review