Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

One order of fried brains coming up!

Don’t let the Overtime Theater’s random setting deceive you. The Overtime Theater looks far off from what some expect from a high-end theatrical establishment. 

However, its production of The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, a musical adaptation of the 1959 cult horror flop, rises above the expectations conjured by the building itself. 

Robert Jordee portrays Dr. Bill Cortner, mad scientist and son of Dr. Cortner Sr. (Roy Thomas), who by day works with his father as a surgeon. His coworkers and living patients praise him as the “Man with the Miracle Smile.”  That song, which is the first to to fall within the story line, assumes the responsibility of introducing the audience to just how well science fiction and musical comedy  go together.  

Cortner and his fiancée, Jan, played by Christie Walheim, show off their impressive voices as they sing the expository of this whacked-out tale. 

Although the Overtime Theater is small, the cast and crew use this cramped space to their advantage.  Upon entering, the audience is faced with a red strip of tape in front of the first center row reading in bold black marker, “CAUTION!!! SPLASH-SQUIRT-FONDLE ZONE.” 

Heeding this warning saved patrons the trouble of cleaning fake blood and brains from their clothing, although the fondling proved to reach far beyond the front row.

However, should one be interested in a true “4-D” experience; the blood and guts certainly draw the spectator into the story. 

While not busy saving lives of people the conventional way, Dr. Cortner likes to try to reassemble living amputees with dead tissue, including his assistant Kurt, played by Cary Farrow.  After being called to his “country home” by Kurt to deal with an undisclosed crisis, he and Jan fall victim to a bloody car accident, which sets in motion Cortner’s most desperate, diabolical and dance-friendly plan yet. 

While keeping Jan’s head alive on a plate, he leaves Kurt to care for his experiments while he searches for a body to make Jan whole again. 

Despite being visible only from the neck up for the majority of the show, Christie Walheim creates a remarkably expressive Jan, who devises a plan of revenge on her crazed fiancé by enlisting the help, or at least friendship, of whatever creature the doctor has locked away in the closet. 

During Cortner’s search for a body, an impressive ensemble composed of Rita Anderson, Sophia Bolles, Lilly Canaria, Rebecca Coffey, Tadeo Garcia, Camie Gillespie, Kristopher Thomas and Liz Vermeulen portray a schizophrenic array of extras. This group includes strippers, beauty pageant contestants, billboards, surgical assistants and at least one dancing headless corpse that has a lovely duet with Jan’s singing, bodiless head.

Did I mention this show was rather strange?  Throw in a little cabaret, a little drag  and a lot of gory special effects, and you can start to piece together an idea of what kind of deranged fun this show has to offer.

“Sometimes theater is not supposed to take itself too seriously,” Overtime Theatre patron Raina James said. “It’s supposed to be about the audience, and they never lose sight of that.”

Phillip Luna and Jon Gillespie wrote the music and words, respectively, to fit the late-1950s era time period of the show.  The experience of 50s-style pop tunes blended with kitsch dark humor is an oddly stirring experience. 

Despite the free candy being hurled at the audience and the slice of jellied brain on sale at the concession, lewd humor and open wounds abound in “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die,” so bringing children is not recommended.

The Overtime Theater is located at 1216 West Avenue. “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” will run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 31.  The Halloween show starts at 7:30 p.m., followed by a party and costume ball.  Thursday performances are on Oct. 22 and 29 and will also start at 8 p.m.

Due to a precious amount of seating space, seats become limited as the show runs.  Reservations can be made by calling the Overtime Theatre at (210) 380-0326. 

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