The holidays in L.A. are marked not by snow but by the heavy fall of holiday-themed shows into small theaters across the city. Multitudes of A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, and holiday comedy revues grace our stages.
Among these is 30 Minute Musical's stage adaptation of Home Alone at the Hudson Backstage Theatre on Hollywood's Theatre Row. It is what it says it is: a thirty-minute musical version of the adored holiday movie.
Three years ago, director Brooke Seguin had the idea to start a company that only did musical adaptations of popular and cult classic movies while watching Roadhouse, the campy 1989 Patrick Swayze action film. The idea to keep each adaptation to thirty minutes came to her quickly, and she began scribbling down movies that she'd like to adapt. 30 Minute Musicals debuted with Showgirls. It's since produced adaptations of Roadhouse, Independence Day, Top Gun and Teen Witch, among others.
The productions are very small budget and DIY, with hand-sewn costumes, and props assembled via the cheapest means of paper, plastic, and glue. In Home Alone, the growling furnace is a cardboard box filled with red tissue paper, and grates and mean teeth drawn on top. An actor stands stage left and opens and closes the flaps, as he growls. The audience roars with laughter. Despite the DIY nature of the props and costumes, the production is tightly choreographed and rehearsed, and the actors all well trained in song and dance.
The performance is pure camp and delight, underscored by Chaz Bono's (celebrity son of Cher and Sonny Bono) portrayal of Peter McAllister, father to Kevin, the film's child protagonist (played by Tom Lenk). Chaz learned of 30 Minute Musicals when a friend from his acting class invited him to see the double feature of Showgirls and Top Gun.
"I saw just how amazing and different this was," Chaz says. "It was opening night, so I hung around after, ending up talking to Brooke, and telling her that I'd love to audition for something, if anything ever came up." The next show Brooke directed was Roadhouse, and Chaz played a henchman.
Although Chaz was used to being in the spotlight due to being the spawn of megastars, undergoing an enormous amount of media attention when he transitioned from female to male, and landing some cameo roles in television, he found himself nervous and intimidated the first time he took the stage with 30 Minute Musicals. He had never done intimate theater before, and it presented some challenges. "It was the first time I'd sung in a long time, the first time I'd sung since transitioning -- I had to get used to a whole new voice," he says.
After Roadhouse, Chaz played President Whitemore in Independence Day, and was hooked. For Home Alone, Chaz offered to come on as a producing partner. And with his celebrity pull, he hopes to help grow the audience. "One of the challenges in L.A. is getting people to come to the theater. I'm constantly telling people, 'Come on, come see this, come see this,'" he says. "But my mom has come to all of them, and she's a really big fan."
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