Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not The End

I kept writing this entry over and over again. I don't want to lock this door out of stupidstition and love of the Zone. I want to keep doing it, so now I'm going to just put up an entry, nothing too final or fatal, so that we can come to a conclusion of sorts.

First, let's acknowledge that ASS = KICKED. The team that built this "new theatrical musical entertainment" went from a pair to a trio on Nov 1, 2008, so we can call that the birth date of FZ6D. From that date forward, many Fools and other experienced humans tore holes in time and space and stole the energy of distant suns in order to bring you an evening's entertainment. For the first time in my career I saw every single person on set pulling extra weight every day so that we could turn audiences into sno cones on a nightly basis. Chairs were destroyed on an almost nightly basis due to simple enthusiasm on the part of the players in the Classroom sequences. Director Scott Leggett handed out push-ups like candy to distracted minions to bring them back on point; consequently, many actors were ripped like Bruce Lee by opening night. We avoided for the most part the group flu that will rage through a tired and busted cast in the course of a long rehearsal (only one internal illness in rehearsal) and it wasn't until the end that we saw any on-stage injuries. Drummer Cosmo Jones played a show with serious food poisoning and gets a medal for managing to drive the train in such condition. We had a couple late game injuries. That's a good sign that we had traveled far enough with extensions of performance. Once people have become so tired and bedraggled that they are walking into 2x4s that have been there the whole run of the show, you know it is time to retire.

"BUT WHAT NOW?" I hear you ask, and I reply, you shouldn't shout BUT like that because it makes you look silly. As for WHAT NOW, now we wait. We would like to reopen the show in 2011. We would like to reopen in Los Angeles before we consider moving the show out of town. Why? Well, for starters, we all live here and, to be honest, there are a few thousand people who didn't see the show and who want to see it, and they all live here as well. I love the show and I know we can refine it further, tightening numbers and presentation, perhaps adding a couple cast members so that costume changes and scenes switch on and off light light bulbs. And we wouldn't mind doing this a little later in the year to take advantage of your liberated libido and murderous mindset when All Hallows is upon us, but who knows. Not that I don't like Summer, but that four-layer Satan costume will feel a whole lot better in a full house at Halloween than on the Fourth of July.

Every day I followed a serious ritual prior to the show. I had to or else I would never have the energy to kill the show stone dead every night as I intended. I would go home from work and meditate for a short while, clearing the day from my head. Stretch a good bit, pet the cats and borrow their grace and energy before heading out. Traffic would be tough (Hollywood at rush hour is no joke) so to keep focus and really raise the energy, I would play a few particular songs in a row - "Uprising" by Muse, and "This Is The New Shit", "Ka-Boom, Ka-Boom", and "Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag" by Marilyn Manson. These acted as vocal warm up and pressure-builders until I got within range of the theater. Then I would switch to "Squeezit the Moocher", which I sang every day, at least once, from Nov 1, 2008 until we closed on July 10, 2010.

I really want to have that level of focus in my life again. But you never know how the bones will roll, whether you make your point, roll craps, or have the Devil show up and grant you the POWER OF ZOMBIE! So I turn my energies elsewhere. Sometimes interesting words happen. This has been one of those times, so until the portal reopens and we are able to adventure in the Sixth Dimension once again, I happily leave you with these thoughts and the gracious thanks of the entire crew and cast of FZ6D for your careful attention paid to our diabolical entertainments. This drama may be over but it's really not the end!

- Marz Richards

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Death in Venice, CA

It's the last week of FZ6D and it is appropriate that we should explode three final performances during the Fourth of July.

As Satan, I have the best seat (well, place to stand, at least) in the house each evening. I continue to be amused to the point of audible laughter by every performance.

In no particular order, things that tickle me from show to show include:

1. Gramps catching and eating a fly at the kitchen table. Also, Gramps freaking out dancing while seated during SOME OF THESE DAYS.

2. The Human Chandelier having to wait for a laugh to be able to climb down from the rafters so that the audience won't notice the descending bikini person.

3. The audience seeing the Keepers bare butts for the first time as they enter up the vom during BIM BAM BOOM.

4. Fausto winning back Doris's affections with supreme bullshit.

5. Drunks explaining to drunks what they think is happening.

6. Frenchy's entrance into the Forbidden Zone. She has a real way with poop.

7. Stage Manager Hans Gelpke heaving the giant red die onto the stage. No one but me gets to see this and it is hilarious. Like watching the Hulk toss a Jetta a half-block.

8. Christina Dohmen making faces at Frenchy during classroom numbers.

9. Johnny shooting Billy. Maybe the quickest gag in the show. Brilliant.

10. Fausto smacking Frenchy's ass as an enticement to stay in the Sixth Dimension.

I'll be back with tales of ridiculous behavior on the part of audience members, some of whom I might be related to. Happy Fourth of July!

- Marz Richards

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So here we are, beginning our extended run of FZ6D, and it is amazing to look back and see how the moss has grown over the cracks and we have shaped our collective selves into the beasts of stage that rule over Limbo and Hell with a smile.

YES! AN EXTENSION! We run Thursday, Friday, Saturday for the next 3 weeks, closing on July 10...and we have a special post-show Q&A with Richard Elfman, so I expect to see you soon!

I began training for the auditions as soon as the show was announced. When September rolled around, I was laid off from work and began to enact what I termed BATMAN PLAN 142 a.k.a. RUN LIKE THE ZOMBIES ARE AFTER YOU. I have a nice little gym in my apartment complex and I would get up every morning and begin with the traditional Chinese kung fu warm up that I learned at Beijing Tai Chi and Kung Fu Academy (hello Sifu Wang!) and then move into running on the treadmill and elliptical before doing some weight training.

I knew that the key to winning the role would be massive cardio that would give me unstoppable stamina. I've spent my life in the pit at Fishbone, Bungle, Primus, Chili Pepper, and Jane's Addiction shows, so I had a good start, but it wasn't going to be enough. If I was lucky enough to be cast in the show, I'd have to be able to actually dance, sing and speak where most other artists might have some artificial sweetener running off a computer backstage.

So I sat down and went through my music collection and put together a playlist that allowed me to drop 20 lbs by the time we were auditioning the show. I've since lost more, simply because wearing a four layer costume with a hat and spats under theatrical lighting is, in itself, a hell of a workout routine.

If you want to enact BATMAN PLAN 142 in your own home, acquire these songs and run the program!

ORGANIZED! - Voodoo Organist
BATTERY ACID - Voodoo Organist
NA ZDROWIE! - Voodoo Organist
D.O.A. - Van Halen
CLAP HANDS - Tom Waits
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE - Robert Randolph & the Family Band
NOBODY - Robert Randolph & the Family Band
ONE MORE SMOKE - Rev. Glasseye
50% MURDER - Rev. Glasseye
KING OF MEN - Rev. Glasseye
THE PREY - Renfield
TAKE IT AWAY - Renfield
STRANGERS - Portishead
GLORY BOX - Portishead
ALL MINE - Portishead
NASTY HABITS - Oingo Boingo
CONTROLLER - Oingo Boingo
WHAT YOU SEE - Oingo Boingo
ONLY A LAD - Oingo Boingo
LITTLE GIRLS - Oingo Boingo
LITTLE GUNS - Oingo Boingo
DEAD OR ALIVE - Oingo Boingo
SWEAT - Oingo Boingo
CRY OF THE VATOS - Oingo Boingo
WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE - Oingo Boingo
FINALE - Forbidden Zone
PRIVATE LIFE - Oingo Boingo
GREY MATTER - Oingo Boingo
CAROUSEL - Mr. Bungle
MENTAL HOPSCOTCH - Missing Persons
BETTER OF TWO EVILS - Marilyn Manson
KA-BOOM KA-BOOM - Marilyn Manson
MOBSCENE - Marilyn Manson
THIS IS THE NEW SHIT - Marilyn Manson
MISS TAKE - Horrorpops
FORCES OF VICTORY - Gogol Bordello
WANDERLUST KING - Gogol Bordello
NOT A CRIME - Gogol Bordello
TWO TRIBES - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
PRESSURE - Fishbone
ROCK STAR - Fishbone
MONKEY DICK - Fishbone
BEERGUT - Fishbone
LOVE/HATE - Fishbone
TRYIN' - Double D Nose
WE WIN - Double D Nose
JOE THE LION - David Bowie
HELDEN - David Bowie
BATMAN THEME - Danny Elfman
FINALE - Danny Elfman
I MISS YOU - Bjork
ARMY OF ME - Bjork
SHADRACH - Beastie Boys
HEY LADIES - Beastie Boys
SHAKE YOUR RUMP - Beastie Boys

125 songs. Now go kick some ass.

- Marz Richards

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


From the first day of rehearsal, I've been in love with this cast. They are the late 80's Showtime Lakers, the monsters of the midway who cannot be stopped by man nor beast and win with a charming smile. So Showtime has been on my mind for a good many months and now, here we are, the NBA Finals, where the Lake-Men of Many A Police/Los Angeles have engaged their ancient foes, the Celts of Boss-Tone, and all appears to be written to a conclusion that is as demented as our own third act!

Of course, SHOWTIME might also spark a memory of Sifu Fosse and his marvelous biopic where the tired old showman has to summon the lightning every morning to limited (or diminishing?) results. Thankfully, although I've heard MANY of my brothers and sisters exult that rasping "Showtime...!" into the window over the past month, we are not experiencing anything other than a persistence of joy on FZ6D. We are, many of us, working multiple gigs as the show rolls through the fields of battle, and so we often find ourselves entering the Sixth Dimension after a ten hour day spent in the company of those who might not consider our art. It makes it quite easy to shed the scales of worry and loss when you get to armor up and engage King Fausto or The Devil Himself in merriment and delusional games.

The joy comes in hearing laughter in new places in the show, and in watching friends and strangers alike come alive with pleasure after their long day in Lost Assholes, Califunktion. The joy is present when you realize that the person in the front row is just as in love with the tale as the people on stage. The joy is alive and unstoppable when you realize that you didn't recognize close friends because you had never seen their face with a look of SHOCK upon it! Would that there was a bar behind the spinny walls of the Sixth Dimension so that we never had to leave and we could just wrap ourselves in your love as we all fall down a bottle of single malt Scotch whisky together. Cheers!

- Marz Richards

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A bouncing baby SHOW

Tonight I was at the local bar and ran into a couple of fellows who had seen the show. Their perspective was interesting because they've done this kind of thing before, on a nightly basis, with much higher stakes (their livelihoods) and a bigger house. And food service, which is a whole other mother of fuck.

I knew they liked the show, but their fermented focus was what I was seeking. "It's a show that just requires you to be able to have fun, to enjoy yourself, which not everyone is capable of doing." said the former booker and current wonderful DJ.

"L.A. is now the center of fun theatre!" said the manager/ass-kicker who shepherded a bunch of killer rock gigs you went to or read about over the past few years. "Seattle is an island, New York is great but serious bid-nass, San Francisco is holding its breath for what's next and Chicago has amazing drama but is not freaky-fun. This is FUN, this is the kind of shit you only get in Los Angeles. This is the devil's town! No one does Halloween like this!" he continued, as I grabbed another Jack and Coke.

We have gone through another wonderful weekend and now we approach the Sunday shows which mark a month of production, a month of life for this Zombaby. If this was an actual bambino, I would be bothering the shit out of all of you with photos of the thirty day anniversary. But this multi-headed demon we have birthed is no photogenic walking wallet that looks to suckle from you until your resources are depleted. This is SHOW, and SHOW only requires one thing, which is your butt in a seat. SHOW does not need love, SHOW only wants to hear you breathing and SHOW will take care of itself. SHOW will tell you what is good and what is bad. SHOW will not ask to go to prom! SHOW doesn't need a car or a trip to Disneyland. SHOW only wants a full house for ninety minutes time and then SHOW is happy.

To be honest, SHOW is not the kind of baby you want. You probably are a normal sort who actually wants more than a season's worth of interaction. This is why you and I are different. This is why I am Satan and you are hoping to be a parent or (eek) are a parent. If I had a baby boy, I would name him Iago Atari Bruce Wayne Richards, which is fine if I were to home-school him, but I think that home-schooling is exactly how you set up a kid to get his ass beat later in life, so it is probably better I don't have a kid and that I am left to care for SHOW.

Just letting you know where I'm at.
See you in the house this weekend for the Friday, Saturday, and now SUNDAY shows!

- Marz Richards

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Biggest Oingo Boingo Fan You're Ever Going To Meet

MERDE! We sold out the first two weeks of FZ6D, including the dreaded Memorial Day weekend. Traditionally the second week of a show sees a drop-off in attendance. There are a lot of reasons for this; everyone's friends and family come to opening weekend, press is there right off the bat if you've done your job correctly, and fans of the show will want to see it early so they can crow/nerd out to their friends about their geek primacy ("FIRST!")

So it was very interesting and heartening to see that we had sold out the show two days ahead of the weekend. It was SPECTACULAR to have the kind of Friday night that we did. It was packed, seats added to the front row, hot as Hell and full of crazy, candy/alcohol-fueled energy. I sweated off the Satan beard by the third number and by the fifth number the amazing glitter brows designed by Kat Bardot were cutting loose and flopping over my eyes like venetian blinds. Just a fantastic set of shows so far and lots more to come. The production has taken on an interesting balance as we continue to tweak audio and timing with the actors settling into their roles and finding new moments every show. I am becoming entranced by certain scenes in the show and have to take care not to blow a line because I'm caught listening to the show; I think that the courtship scene between Frenchy and Fausto (the painting scene) and the aria that Rene (Matt Valle) sings at the start of Queen's Revenge are extraordinary bits of theater and show the real heart that beats at the core of the show.

So we've done four shows so far and after every show, when I'm out on the street saying hello to friends, I've been approached by a stranger who opens the conversation with this sentence, "I'm the biggest Oingo Boingo fan you're ever going to meet..." I'm glad that I'm meeting these people. The producers had hoped that you still existed and carried the fire of Halloween in your heart while we went through the terrible drought of Boingo music that has plagued us over the past few years. I'm very glad that you find what we have wrought to be Of The Body and not something to be despised and forgotten. I stood with you at a hundred Boingo shows from 1986 forward. We have raised our voices together to scream "NO SPILL BLOOD!" in response to the query, "WHAT IS THE LAW?" My solidarity will always be with you, The Biggest Oingo Boingo Fan I Will Ever Meet, and I will do my best to scorch your soul with Real Hellfire every show. So, please, tell everyone you meet from this day forward what you have witnessed under the smoldering eaves of Sacred Fools. Tell them that Frenchy lives to dance. Tell them that Bust Rod is the King of Tap. Tell them that Fausto presents his arguments of conquest in new battle-armor.


- Marz Richards

Monday, May 17, 2010

TICKETS ON SALE NOW and other important things

We've seen over a hundred people come through the door now in service of the idea of re-animating the Zone and I want to thank them properly in the best way I know how. By exhibiting their artwork to big houses, full of enormously entertaining people who are enthusiastic about art and performance, rowdy motherfuckers who laugh too long and scream too loud but bring the energy to a BOIL.

In short, YOU. In the front row. Putting the EEK in our weekend!

Tickets for this magnificent beast of a show are on sale now for all performances at www.FZ6D.com or head over to www.SacredFools.org and the result shall be the same. You and your fellows will have money extracted (as if by magic!) from your private pirate accounts and entry will be permitted for a short while to the riotous pleasure and exquisite pain of the Sixth Dimension.

The work over the past many weeks with our cast, our musicians, our crew, our technical staff, our designers, and our producers and gracious director has been easily the most fun and inspirational work I've done in the happiest circumstances with the greatest amount of talent gathered under one roof in my life in art. This little clown show proves to be made of the new element Operanium, and is dementedly touching while remaining terrifyingly sexy and salaciously horrible. You all have my eternal love for your devotion to art.

- Marz Richards

Author's Blog 003

We are four days away from opening. Where does the time go?! It's doubly amazing for me considering that my script started out as a paper log of subtitle transcriptions for the black and white DVD release and has evolved into the living, breathing creature of wonder and chaos that we will loose upon the world in mere days. I am absolutely astounded at the amount of work that's been done on this show by the amazing cast and crew, Scott Leggett, all of the designers, and I can't thank Sacred Fools, Richard Elfman and Jack Murphy enough for giving me the chance to play in the 6th Dimension. I'm equal parts anxious and excited right this second, but that being said: I can't wait to see this thing in front of a live audience.

Michael Holmes

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Music Producer's Blog 002

The Forbidden Zone is unsafe.

One would presume that this was understood. It is in the title. A Zone that is Forbidden! How much clearer must one be? It would seem that this says, “DANGER! DO NOT TRESPASS HERE! REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE AREA!”

And yet, a great many people have convened within Sacred Fools to plot your eventual entertainment. Unfortunately, the FZ6D virus is an incredibly vigorous strain of disease and after one scant hour of exposure even the most reserved personalities contained within our cast showed signs of advanced infection. Clothing was discarded and the infected grew close to one another as they raised their querulous voices in an unholy chant extolling the virtues and vices contained with the boundaries of the Sixth Dimension.

It is a most splendid thing to witness the creation of this flesh-golem that will caper and jape for your amusement. The three choreographers (!!!) that put us through our paces have designed a properly explosive opening number that will reintroduce you to all the denizens of the Forbidden Zone. I think we may have to mark the first row of seating as the Splash Area due to the moisture generated by the exertion and exultation of the cast.

Ever wanted to sit one foot away from Squeezit while he shrieks at you and dances his ass off?
Those seats are House Left, front row, first four seats from the vomitorium. Show up early and place yourself at the center of the action!

Need to get up close and personal with the Lord of Lies right off the bat?
Those seats are House Right, the very furthest to the side, but you may find yourself engaged by the King Creep in an unsavory fashion.

Now I’m not going to draw a map for you every time someone has a particularly inspired bit of blocking or a grand idea is executed with unerring accuracy, but I do want to take the time to tell you now that things are falling into place rapidly and we will be most happy to place our hot little tootsies upon the stage in front of you and strike sparks from the boards with our horns and claws when the time comes.

For a first few rehearsals, this was a Hell of a time well spent. We will keep cold crushing fools and remain in full effect until we see you all in May (and beyond!)

- Marz Richards

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Author's Blog 002

Now, I'm guessing more than one of you reading this has in their possession a copy of the Black & White DVD version of "Forbidden Zone." That being the case, I'm guessing you've probably perused the DVD extras and found the deleted scene entitled "Gider Brider Itzak," featuring Gramps being...well, Gramps.

As part of the process of compiling material for our version, I thought I'd do some research and see what the lyrics for this song were, just in case we could find a way to make it fit. But I looked high and low, scouring all corners of the internet and could not find them anywhere. I looked under the alternative titles "Giter Brider Itzak" and "Good Brother Itzhak," but I came up with bupkis.

But I had a hunch, and after a particularly lucky find at a local record store, I came across a cd that not only had the song on it, but also had the handy dandy lyrics enclosed!

So next time you're watching the clip, feel free to sing along!

"Gider Brider Itzak"

Far aich’dou shein meidlich

Hob ikh a giten plan

Oun ven ir vet mich folgen

Ver ir mir dank bar bzain

Torn zitz ir mit a coh’h

In park bay nach’ alien

Oiy zolt ir vissen vi azoy zich tsi bageine

Zitz der boch’h rouyik shtil mit aiych’

Torn fankt her oun tsi krichen

Zougt him glaich’

Oye veieye, oye oye oye

Gider Brider Itzak zait nicht azoy hitzik

Zait kain houch’m zait nor nit kain kval

Torn zizt ir mit a meidel

Do halt zich fin our heidel

Oye Itzik brider zaiyt nicht kain durak

Oye veiye, oye oye oye

Gider Brider Itzak zait nicht azoye hitzik

Zait kain houch’m zait nor nitcht kain kval

Zait nicht tsi fil macheh’

Oun nicht kirchen vi a dober hach’er

Oye Itzik brider zait nicht kain durak

- Michael Holmes

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Music Director Blog 001

My earliest memory of FORBIDDEN ZONE was seeing the tape in video rental stores when I was a kid. I didn’t think much of it at the time, though I was confused about the fact that sometimes it would be in the “horror” section and sometimes “comedy”. I attribute this largely to the fact that San Jose, CA is not nearly as much of a film nerd town as Los Angeles (unless you take “The Milpitas Monster” into account). Or I could attribute it to the idea that most store managers took a look at the cover with a frog-headed butler, Tattoo, and Susan Tyrell grabbing her boobs and said, “Screw it! Put it in ‘nature films’ for all I care!”

I have a confession to make – I never actually saw the film until last year. I’ve always been a fan of Danny Elfman and Oingo Boingo, but a casual fan at best. I love his film scores and, as a rock musician, love the fact that one of my own was able to parlay his rock singer career into that of being one of the busiest composers in the movieland. But that was about the extent of it.

Then my bandmate in Renfield, Marz Richards, approached me with the idea of being Music Director for FZ6D. It sounded like quite a challenge. I would be responsible for working with him to assemble two bands worth of musicians, learning an entire musical by ear, and teaching it to a bunch of other people. Now, I already play in three bands – Renfield, Uberband, and occasionally Batlord. I needed to ask myself if I had the time and energy for to be the sorta-conductor of this kinda-orchestra. I rented the movie.

I could list off my favorite artists, musicians, and writers for days. But suffice to say, I like it weird. And once I saw FZ, I couldn’t believe I had missed it. Richard Elfman’s Dadaist jaunt down the rabbit hole is a salad bowl of vaudevillian tomfoolery and cartoon imagery as imagined by the pimply kid who guzzles Slurpees in the hopes that they’ll get him high. It’s everything you want in a midnight movie.

I was still unsure, but I met the production team and they surprised the hell out of me. See, I used to act myself, and my experience of many theater productions was that of chaos fueled by insanity. Fulfilling, but exhausting. The people at Sacred Fools seemed organized, clear in their intentions, and astoundingly talented. As I told them at the time, I am always in hot pursuit of fun. This whole dang thing seemed too fun to pass up.

Since that time, we’ve been in a workshop stage. I’ve become a far greater fan of Elfman’s music now that I’m in the position of picking it apart. I’m amazed at the talent of my fellow musicians. And I’ve become infected with the fever anyone gets when they know they’re up to something extraordinary. I’ll shell out the details later. But you should know that I’ve found this to be extraordinary so far, and we’re still in the womb. More later.

-Ryan Johnson

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Music Producer Blog 001

In the late 80’s my uncle noticed that I was a big fan of Oingo Boingo and gave me a bootleg copy of FORBIDDEN ZONE on VHS that he had taped off of Night Flight or The Movie Channel one evening. I asked him what it was and he told me, “It’s the Oingo Boingo movie, nephew.” My uncle was always ahead of the game. He was calling me nephew 15 years ahead of Snoop and he had to foresight to bend my brain with Richard Elfman’s cornucopia of comedy and cartoon consequences.

I immediately began nightly screenings of the film. It became (and remains to this day) a litmus test for how much weird you can handle in your day-to-day existence. It is the gut-check for every entertainer I meet and is the gold standard of nuttery. I managed to spend the next 20 years using quotes and songs from the film in almost every artistic production that I had some degree of control over. If you saw a show I produced and someone turned on a TV, chances are they would be watching the Masseuse sing the Yiddeshe Charleston. If someone turned on a car radio in a short film, the best bet would be that Bim Bam Boom was about to joyfully explode from the speakers.

As I produced art and entertainment, I continued to keep FORBIDDEN ZONE in the circle of possible productions. When I luckily found myself backstage during the final Oingo Boingo shows, my first topic of conversation with Steve Bartek was, “Who, exactly, has the rights to a live production of FORBIDDEN ZONE?” At different points in the past decade, I approached notable theatre producers about putting together what I thought was a good bet for a hit production, only to find them not getting it at all…and one of these folks is well-known for batshit crazy theatre. It was a steep uphill climb to get them to listen, but as soon as I had them on point with the idea of a world premiere Elfman musical in Los Angeles, Gramps would spend two minutes beating a man to death while eating a pie and the whole thing would fall into a delightful Dada nightmare ending with the producer wondering how the hell I got into their house.

So the project went on the back-burner while I got busy on a lot of theatre and music production. This string of work led my band, Renfield, to perform at a benefit at Sacred Fools theater. I was appearing in the most recent production of Bill Robens’ excellent and canny musical A Mulholland Christmas Carol and getting to know people a little bit at Fools. Renfield was performing on Dia de los Muertos 2008 and after we ended our set with a little remix of the Oingo Boingo song Dead Man’s Party, I was approached by adaptation author Michael Holmes with the fateful question, “Ever hear of a movie called FORBIDDEN ZONE?”

How did this come to be? How would I have an uncle deranged enough to give a child this film for his birthday? How would I end up in Los Angeles and become warped by the pink and purple smoke that fills our lungs as we listen to odd bands and participate in strange theatre? How could I hunt musicians in order to form a band (and keep it together for over a decade) so that we could play a show on the Day of the Dead and be in front of the two gentleman who were carrying the standard of the Zombie Baby Army? How is it that all this happens in proximity to Sifu Richard Elfman and Maestro Danny Elfman so that we can gain their blessings and begin work immediately?
The answer is plain to see from where I sit. This was meant to be. Los Angeles loves the denizens of the Forbidden Zone and wants them to live again and is doing everything it can to help us make this demented fantasy a reality once again. I believe in magic and I do not have to look any further than my schedule have daily proof of magic at work. Very soon you will have proof as well.

Once I was brought aboard the production to bring the music of Danny Elfman and the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo to life on-stage at Sacred Fools, I did a very smart thing. I asked Ryan Johnson to be the musical director. He accepted this Olympian task without hesitation and has given the production solar strength. Ryan and I began sourcing musicians in autumn of 2009 and began workshopping the many vocal numbers contained within the film. As of last week, after uncounted hours of charting, arrangement, interviews, playdates, sing-a-longs, and one kajillion emails (and a final run-through on the best Super Bowl Sunday ever) we have in our simian skulls the mathematics required to target a trajectory that will place us in the heart of the Sixth Dimension.

Because of the heartfelt work by musicians Ryan Johnson (keyboards and arrangements), Noah Lifeschey (bass), Nikki Medlin (guitar), Peter Gilabert (guitar), Cosmo Jones (drums), Travis Thomas (trombone), Brian Wallis (trombone), Paul Literall (trumpet), Matt Rubin (trumpet), Colin Kupka (saxophone) and workshop vocalists Megan Crockett, Bryan Krasner, Rebecca Larsen, Alyssa Preston, Aileen-Marie Scott, Matt Valle we have been able to figure out the most dangerous compositions (that would be QUEEN’S REVENGE – seriously, that song is a double black diamond run) and how the live show can be best served by the amazing numbers that will now be shaped into stunning moments of entertainment by choreographer Natasha Norman and director Scott Leggett as we move into full production. You all have my eternal thanks.

What is this? This is a nightmarish amount of work for a hardcore group of professional entertainers. This is a dream come true for a kid from a poisoned cow town. This is the most ridiculous and resplendent show you’ll ever see in a 99-seat theater. This is FORBIDDEN ZONE: LIVE IN THE 6TH DIMENSION.

- Marz Richards

Friday, February 5, 2010

Author's Blog 001

I kind of got into Oingo Boingo backwards. See, in the mid-90's I was as big Rude Boy as I could be living in Albuquerque, NM and as such tried to dabble in as many ska related things as possible (If you ask nice, I'll show you my tattoo sometime). There was something about the flamboyance and sheer PEP of ska that really appealed to me, and for a long time I felt if you couldn't dance to it, it wasn't worth it. I blame the Skeletones, Let's Go Bowling and The Concentrators for this. Now, around this same time I also happened to be studying theatre, since I had managed to snag a scholarship to the local university and they didn't yet offer musical theatre or acting for film as a major, so I made the most with what I could. Between rehearsing plays and attending Ska shows, my dance card (pun only moderately intended) was pretty full, and having taken notice of my newfound musical obsession, and old, dear friend of mine gave me a copy of "Good for Your Soul" on vinyl. I was skeptical, I'm not going to lie. For me, for the longest time (and I realize now just how close minded I was), Oingo Boingo was nothing more to me than that "Weird Science" band. But hey, a free record is a free record, right?

From the moment the needle hit the record, I was hooked. It had pep. It had showmanship. Now THIS was a band to latch on to!

But let's back up a little further, even. When I was wee, my mom worked part time at a video store owned by some friends of our family (which, if memory serves was just called "Video Movies"), and it being the early-mid 80's and Blockbuster not yet having put the kibosh on mom and pop shops, this was a rare opportunity for me. I spent literally hundreds of hours walking up and down the aisles looking at the video covers (or attempting to), and I swear that one day I came across this day-glo, impressionistic wonder on the shelf: a buxom woman grasping her breast flanked by the devil, a frog...and Tattoo? I was fascinated, I looked at it again and again, until eventually I got caught. But "Forbidden Zone" had entered my vocabulary.

Now let's get a little closer to the present. A few years ago, having become fascinated with the swath of bizarre musicals that cropped up in the late 70's and early 80's ("The Apple,""Phantom of the Paradise,""Shock Treatment"), I FINALLY watched "Forbidden Zone." And from the moment the movie started, just like that needle hitting on the record, I was HOOKED. It was like Alice in Wonderland on PCP filtered through a Dali painting directed by Eugene Ionesco. This Richard Elfman cat? A genius! Oh, and it was funny and sexy and about halfway through the film, I said to myself "This would be killer onstage. I wonder if anyone's done it before?"

Come to find out, they hadn't. Not fully, anyway. And it's a darn good thing, otherwise I might be prepping a production of "Jacques Brel is Alive And Well And Living in Paris" right now.

I did some research and after some digging I found Richard Elfman's contact info, and took an uncharacteristically bold leap and contacted him. I was prepared to write it off and was proud of myself for at least getting that far. Imagine, then, my surprise when Jack Murphy, his business partner in FZ LLC, contacted me to let me know that they just HAPPENED to be screening a new color print of the film at The Egyptian that week and maybe I should come say hi. Seriously, you could've knocked me down with a feather. So I went. And I met Jack. And Richard Elfman himself, who had expressed some chagrin about people having approached them in the past and the feeling not being there. But I lived in LA, so that was a point in my favor. And after the pair of them (and Richard's wife, Lauren) attending a performance at Sacred Fools, the enthusiasm began to grow, and I set about adapting this quintessential bizarro entertainment for the live stage. Which I assure you is no mean feat. How weird is too weird for stage? How do you do the 6th Dimension animations "live?" Do you keep the Princess topless throughout the whole thing (the answer to that one is an emphatic yes, by the way)? Just what the hell do we think we're doing here?! We had a few mandates, but we've also been given a wide berth with this project.

That initial was a little over a year ago as of this writing, and we are still about 5 months away from mounting it.I can already tell you I am incredibly excited and more than a little anxious to put this zombie baby on its feet. As a fan and fanboy, I am all too aware of what the best intentions can do to cherished memories. And I'm going to do my damndest to make sure that not only do they continue to BE cherished memories, but maybe help foster a few new ones before I'm done.

Now go with the Princess. And don't be cheeky.

- Michael Holmes

Director's Blog 001

When I was an acting student, back in the mid 90’s, a friend of mine showed me Forbidden Zone. It was a bootleg on a crappy VHS tape, there were about 5 of us in the room and I will be perfectly honest, much beer… and other intoxicants. The movie started and I was swept away. My mind was blown and I was generally freaked out. I love surrealism and the avant-garde… but this wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. Forbidden Zone was its own thing, with its own aesthetic, totally unique, and completely original. It was an explosion of insanity with as many nods to Max Fleischer cartoons as there were to Fellinni, fused and held together with any amazing and eclectic soundtrack.

Cut to 14 years later, Forbidden Zone floating in the back of my mind and my dear friend and colleague, Michael Holmes brings it up out of the blue:

Michael: “Have you ever seen a movie called Forbidden Zone?”

Me: “Yeah! That movie is crazy!”

Michael: “I think I wanna adapt it for the stage…you wanna direct?”

Me: “OK!”

Fear immediately bubbled up in my brain. How was I going to stage this? How I was going to be faithful to the movie while making an original staged musical its own thing? Where am I going to find someone to fill the shoes of Herve Villachaize?

Well, as I write this many of these questions have yet to be answered. But after Michael and I met with Richard Elfman and his business partner Jack Murphy it became clear that we had the full support of Forbidden Zone’s Master. As anyone who knows him will tell you, Richard’s energy and passion is second to none and absolutely infectious… I felt inspired.

As Michael and I, along with our amazing production team, embark on this journey to the Sixth Dimension we have many challenges to overcome. But we are determined to bring back to life Fausto, Doris, Frenchy and all of the beautifully insane characters that inhabit the Forbidden Zone! We look forward to seeing you all there in May!

- Scott Leggett

You are my hostage and don't you forget it!

Producer's Blog 2/5/10

Welcome Zombabies to the Production Blog for Forbidden Zone: LIVE in the 6th Dimension! I type fast, but even so, typing Forbidden Zone: LIVE in the 6th Dimension is a little much, so we have been using FZ6D as shorthand for the title of this show. But what is this show? I describe it as a new stage musical entertainment, a bawdy and thrilling sci-fi/fantasy romp that explodes with color, song, humor and horror that is at least as demented as the film that it is adapted from. Everything that you hope to see is in there. It is what you never expected to see that is going to blow your little frog-servant loving, art-boxing, dice-dealing mind.

We are about a week away from announcing audition dates and casting information for the show and we are many moons out from the start of rehearsal, but as this is such a rigorous production, we have been hard at work for the better part of a year getting all our corpses lined up so that when we are granted the POWER OF ZOMBIE we can take over the planet!

I'll be back next week to report on the final Music Workshop in which an eight piece band will perform all the vocal numbers from the show for a select audience of producers and Sacred Fools company members at a remote location. All shall be revealed to you in time.

Until then, tide yourselves over with missives from Director/Producer Scott Leggett and Author/Producer Michael Holmes. In the coming months you'll also hear from Music Director Ryan Johnson and Choreographer Natasha Norman. We look forward to seeing you in the near future as we gather in the land of sin and pleasure. You'll be surprised by the things that you will see!

- Marz Richards