Best Theater Surprise

Cannibal! The Musical

Trey Parker's Cannibal! The Musical is a two-pronged assault. Prong one, the obvious one, lampoons the classic movie-musical format (e.g., Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly! — note the proclivity for exclamation marks!). Prong two is a juvenile attack on his unfaithful college girlfriend, who shares a name with the horse of the main character, who happens to be a man-eating idiot. So it's crass and childish as well as being subtle and devious, and it skewers everyone. Suki and Brian Peters mounted an independent production of this low-budget cult classic that was a grade-A, classic example of how budget has nothing to do with talent. With a massive cast, high-quality opening and closing video credits, and some of the most relentlessly silly performances seen anywhere, Cannibal! was more than just foul-mouthed, mean-spirited fun; it was brilliant theater. That was the last thing you'd expect from a show that has as its showstopper a man singing "When I Was on Top of You" to his beloved horse — and yet damned if that wasn't a touching-slash-unsettling moment. The show's run began and ended in late 2011, but rumor has it we might get another bite at this one. You can bet we'll be checking for updates.

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