‘Exorcistic: The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody of The Exorcist’ – Glorious Toe-Tapping, Head-Spinning Fun!

By Ernest Kearney  —  With a great many artists whose work you are familiar with, you can be assured of having an evening of great entertaining fun.

With Michael Shaw Fisher’s undertakings, you can be assured of that “great entertaining fun” coming with a hefty side dish of intelligence as an additional bonus.

And this is certainly the case with Exorcistic: The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody of “The Exorcist.”  Fisher delivers a raucous hard rock, head-spinning, green-spewing pastiche of William Friedkin’s classic 1973 supernatural horror flick (and inadvertent recruitment ad for the Catholic Church) that provides the audience with toe-tapping and side-splitting demonic funniness from its lever de rideau (*) “A Christian in Iraqto the eleventh-hour number “The Longest Martyrdom Song Ever Written.”

In between there are the expected musical ditties molded out of the most memorable moments plucked from the film: Howdy Captain Rowdy, The Party (“You’re all going to die up there!”), and 88 Doctors (complete with stage renderings of the deafening gashing of the cerebral angiography.) 

Now that melodious methodology could have sufficed as a more than sufficient theatrical blueprint for constructing this entire show upon with one iconic scene after another musicalized and plastered over with humorous harmonics, and the result would have been a show much like Silence! The Musical, the oh-so-popular parody of Silence of the Lambs.

There would have been nothing wrong had Fisher taken that course, and I’m sure the Exorcistic would have ended up a safe and sane little crowd-pleaser despite having a tempo similar to driving over a stretch of speed bumps. 

But fortunately, Fisher doesn’t seem particularly drawn to “safe,” and “sane” clashes with his personality.  

No sooner has the Exorcistic audience settled into their smug expectations of what the show has in store for them than Fisher begins to gleefully lob banana peels in their path by employing the Brechtian technique of verfremdungseffekt.

Anatomy of a Scene,” is projected on the wall, calling a time-out from the dramatic narrative to allow the cast to partake in a little deconstruction of The Exorcist in which they quickly discuss and dissect the incorporated theme, symbolism, and nuanced gradation that the scene which has just been performed holds in the film.  It’s like the musing of Siskel and Ebert, except that here Benny Hill has replaced Ebert.

By the arrival of intermission, the audience has regained their lost compliancy and are again confident they are capable of facing whatever further creative shenanigans might await them.

And they are wrong.

As the second act opens, Fisher manages to toss in their path a banana peel the size of the  Hindenburg.

‘Nuff said.

“Exorcistic: The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody of The Exorcist” (Photo by Nathan Noyes)

It is always intoxicating to see what can be achieved on stage when a meager budget is subsidized by intelligence and creativity, and thanks to directors Alli Miller-Fisher and Chadd McMillian (who also did costume design, light design and I’m guessing parked everyone’s car as well,) Exorcistic fills the Three Clubs’ stage with the explosive energy of Seabiscuit in the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby.

On top of everything else (and this does include the sound score designed by Thomas Queyja and props devised by Kelly Stavert) Exorcistic has the added advantage of a top-shelf ensemble performing it.  

Zaftig and zany Gabby Sanalitro, in the role of “stage manager” (among others), leads us to the rabbit hole Fisher has dug and then impishly kicks us in.

Jesse Merlin as Father Barren belts out the lever de rideau number while the rest of the cast provides a chorus of Iraqi desert diggers, Iraqi fighting dogs, and a menacing statue that happens to be in Iraq. 

Janaya Mahealani Jones brings a hefty pinch of “va-va-va-boom” in her role as the film’s movie star mother with a problematic child (Compassionately commented upon in the song “A Movie Star With a F**ked Up Kid.”)

Emma Hunton (who produced along with Miller-Fisher and McMillan) portrays Megan O’Neil, parodying the film’s “Regan MacNeil” a role played by  a twelve-year-old who would later in her life date Rick James,

The ever so flamboyant Mitchell Gerard portrays “Megan’s” sinister imaginary friend Captain Rowdy with great….well, flamboyance.

Nick Bredosky is ruggedly fine in the priest role that was played in the film by an actor who was married to Jackie Gleason’s daughter and turned down the lead in the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver. (Think he regretted it?)

And Kim Dalton adds her voice wherever needed while Fisher himself is kept busy filling in for roles too small to have anyone play but the writer.

The cast performs to Broadway standards and then some with Jones, Merlin, Hunton, and Fisher himself pushing the envelope into another zip code altogether.

As a capper, at the performance I attended, the gates of Hell opened allowing for the demonic Brendan Hunt to emerge and delight the audience as a Satanic songster.

Exorcistic: The Unauthorized Musical Parody of The Exorcist” on stage at The Three Clubs in Hollywood (Photo by Nathan Noyes)

A Kickstart site has been set up with the intention of getting this show ready for a New York production, but personally, I think it’s New York that had better get ready for the Exorcistic The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody of The Exorcist

Two more performances are scheduled for the Three Clubs Bar on August 4th and 11th and the producers also have plans for shows every Friday during the month of September.  The hope is that these performances combined with the contributions made on Kickstart will lead to taking Exorcistic to New York audiences in October.

I’m rooting for them.  And if this glowing (and brilliantly composed) review is not enough to entice you to see Exorcistic The Unauthorized Rock Musical Parody of The Exorcist, all I can say is –


(Eh, it was worth a shot.)


For Tickets and Additional Information click to go to EventBrite.com.


LOCATION: Three Clubs 1123 Vine Street Los Angeles, CA 90038

[1] **German for “distancing effect.  (I love using these words. They drive my editor nuts)

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

No comments


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.