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Cthulhu: The Musical: “This Is Not Your Kid’s Puppet Show” Horror Musical Extravaganza at Buffalo Iron Works (Podcast Included)

After sold-out performances across the West Coast, Puppeteers for Fears, Oregon’s only dedicated puppet musical horror troupe, will present their original show, Cthulhu: The Musical!, in Buffalo for a June 24 performance at Buffalo Iron Works as part of the company’s 2024 summer tour. Describing the process of making the show, Josh Gross, artistic director of Puppeteers for Fears, said, “It’s like Fugazi, if they were a puppet theater troupe. »

Gross never thought theater would be his calling. He thought about a career as a musician and dreamed of being part of a rock ‘n’ roll band. Deeply passionate about the energy and communal experience of loud, sweaty rock shows, he found the traditional theater experience “dusty and boring” – a feeling he still maintains to some extent. “Our goal with Puppeteers for Fears is really to try to give the theater the jolts and energy of a rock’n’roll show. So you go see it and you’re like, “Oh, wow, that’s fun.” It’s like everything I thought theater wasn’t. We call it theater for people who didn’t realize they loved theater… because they were never given a reason to love it before. Or a rock ‘n’ roll show for people who feel like maybe they’ve aged from going to a sweaty dance party and want something they can experience while sitting down.

The show is performed by a troupe that operates custom puppets, backed by a live rock band. “We have a puppet house, and then the band is kind of behind the scenes, so you can see it. It’s kind of like our version of an orchestra pit… there’s that whole rock show element, but also sometimes people will say “watching the band laugh, that’s how you know the actors have threw out the script and did something else.” quite.’ We tended to hire very talented improv comedians. The show is supposed to last two hours. In Seattle, one time, there were three, because they added so much to the storyline. It was definitely too much…(The puppeteers) always move away from the subject, from the scenario. You can usually tell how much I’m cracking up.

The plot of the musical is adapted from HP Lovecraft’s 1929 short story. The Call of Cthulhu. It tells the story of Cthulhu, a colossal and malevolent octopus-faced elder god who hibernates beneath the ocean, influencing and driving humans mad through their dreams. Lovecraft, often hailed as the father of Gothic horror, created creatures and themes that have significantly influenced modern literature.

The inspiration for Cthulhu: The Musical! came from Gross’s playful habit of adding “the musical” to various phrases to gauge reactions. When he first mentioned Cthulhu: The Musical, the enthusiastic response convinced him of the concept’s potential, despite the daunting challenge of adapting such a dark story into a comedy. “We’re always looking to subvert classic themes instead of rehashing tired storylines,” Gross said.

The production is, however, resolutely aimed at adults. “I like to make sure people know it’s a puppet show, but it is. not designed as a children’s show,” Gross said, adding:

Jim Henson has talked a lot about the concept of puppet bias. In much of the rest of the world, puppets are really considered just a theatrical medium, but here in America, they’re really considered a children’s medium, and that’s something you have to overcome if you’re trying to create something a little more sophisticated.

WNY Sound Stage

Puppet Horror Rocks Buffalo Iron works with an original musical. Interview with Josh Gross, Puppeteers for Fears



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The production is directed by Katy Curtis, with a script and original songs by Josh Gross. Visual artist and production designer Aubry Hollingshead provides the multimedia backgrounds and the cast includes Hunter Prutch, Alyssa Marie Mathews, Alex Giorgi, Owen Webb and Forest Gilpin.

Puppeteers for Fears presents: Cthulhu: The Musical on Monday, June 24, 2024, at Buffalo Iron Works. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the show and are available here.