Who: Sacred Fools Theater Company
660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Silver
When: 11p.m., Saturdays
Tickets: $5, or pay to see the main show first and
admission to "Crime Scene" is free.Phone: (310) 281-8337
Web Site: Crime
to the "Crime Scene" Theme Song
the free RealNetworks player to
The Sacred Fools
Theater Company slays audiences with a weekly late-night show featuring
three serialized story lines filled with murder, mayhem and sometimes song
By Debbi K.
Special to Calendar
"Crime Scene" actors Melissa Roddy
from "HEIST! The Musical!" Stan Freitag from "The Stuperfriends,"
Li'l Jessie Marion from "Flying Fists of Fury...," J. Haran from
"City of Angles" and Patrick Towne from "The Shocking Adventures of
Photo courtesy of Desi Doyen
f you see a hip, young crowd hanging around Heliotrope Drive and
Melrose Avenue in Silver Lake late Saturday night, it's not because
they're dying to get into the latest underground club -- they've gathered
to observe the scene of a crime.
are regulars who come each week to watch as murder and mayhem unfold.
Ghoulish, you say? Oh no, it's theater!
Created and performed by the Sacred Fools Theater Company, "Crime Scene"
is a campy, rowdy, raw send-up of murder/crime genres that keeps you
coming back because the stories end in cliffhangers each week. New stories
begin every three weeks and tickets are $5.
A young, party-like crowd hangs out at
the 99-seat Heliotrope Theater well before the 11 p.m. show in order to
get a good seat, grab a $2 beer and catch up on the latest story lines.
The show attracts a mix of regulars, newcomers or friends who have been
eagerly dragged there by regulars. As the show begins, there's a scramble
for seats. If you're not quick, you might wind up standing or sitting on
steps because most of the hour shows sell out.
sacred cows with adult humor is "Crime Scene's" mission and its source of
popularity. Regular attendee Michael Anderson quips, "It's like a Southern
Baptist service with nudity, profanity and promiscuity."
|It's like a
Southern Baptist service with nudity, profanity and promiscuity.|
-- Michael Anderson
The weekly performance consists of three
concurrent stories, each containing three scenes. On one recent night, the
audience found out who killed the arrogant "Cassie" in the conclusion of
"A Chorus Line-up," learned if Charlie Brown actually murdered Snoopy in
the last installment of "You're A Dead Man Charlie Brown," and witnessed
barbarian escapades in "The Emperor and the Queen's Parisian Weekend."
In "A Chorus Line-up," the '70s costumes
conjure up images of Richard Simmons on acid. The actors carry small,
hand-held mirrors, mocking the musical's trademark set of full-length
mirrors. In "Charlie Brown," Marcie is in love with Peppermint Patty,
Schroder is a gay deejay and the Great Pumpkin appears in Marlene Dietrich
"Crime Scene" co-creator Scott
Rabinowitz was inspired to create a satirical murder mystery after
performing similar productions in New York, which he says were extremely
popular. It's the three-story structure that keeps audiences interested
and returning week after week, he explains. The longest story was Paul
Plunkett's popular "City of Angles," which ran for 14 weeks.
"If you don't like one story, or if one
isn't going particularly well, the other two usually are," Rabinowitz
"Crime Scene" is performed after
Sacred Fools' main stage production. In an effort to fuel attendance,
those who attend Saturday's main show are offered free admission to "Crime
Members say the company's web
site has also contributed to the show's following. Cyber sleuths who want
to get in on the act at home can check out the "Crime Scene" web
site, peruse "Crime Scene" case files, play "Crime Scene: The Game," see
photos from the shows and listen to the "Crime Scene" theme song.
The show's popularity has attracted new
money and talent to the small theater company. The constantly rotating
stories require a battalion of actors, writers and directors. Sacred Fools
members estimate that nearly 30 writers, 30 directors and more than 200
actors have participated in the show since its inception a year ago.
demands of the serial show require blender-speed work by writers,
directors and actors who have just two normal rehearsals and one quickie
run-through on Saturday for that night's show. It's do-or-die on stage.
Pogo Saito, center, as Irene
Plymouth in "All About Eva" with Amy Bryson, left, as Eva Harrison,
Sharon MacMenamin as Fuzzy Abromowitz and Jenifer Hamil as Judge
Photo courtesy of Desi Doyen
But the impromptu nature of the shows
seems to be part of the attraction for the audience. There are memorable
moments produced by the manic energy and lack of rehearsals.
"When we squirm, they love it," Paul
And things do go
wrong. One night, the light board blew out in the opening scene and the
actors had to perform without any light cues. The audience roared with
laughter throughout the show anyway.
"It's like when you see an accident on the freeway," says audience regular
Anderson. "You just have to watch."
"Crime Scene" starts a new batch of stories Saturday, July 31. The three
story lines are: "Murder on the Ocean Queen," in which a star is murdered
on a luxury cruise; "Noche Negro," described as a sick and twisted piece
about a boy and his mother that features members of the Sacred Fools and
Zoo District theater companies; and a science-fiction spoof.
A special one-night-only show created
by women, called "Lilith Fear," takes place Aug. 21. The show features a
piece written by Sacred Fools' founding member and "Crime Scene"
co-creator Danielle Surrette, who died June 30. Surrette produced, wrote
and acted in many of the shows and members were shocked and saddened by
her unexpected death, said Philip Sokoloff, the company's publicist.
Surrette created "Lilith Fear" to give women the opportunity to write,
produce and direct for the stage, said Sokoloff. The show will be
performed in Surrette's memory.
Swanson is a freelance writer specializing in theater and