I promise you that I haven’t gone mad and that I know that Halloween was a whole week ago! It is also true that I controversially believe that as soon as the spooky season is over it’s time to start getting into the Christmas spirit which causes many of my friends a lot of discomfort! I actually spent the pinnacle of the spooky season at The Disney Villains Ball which was comprised of a cast of both US and UK Ru Paul’s Drag Race drag performers (which if you haven’t already read about you can do so at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/11/02/disney-villians-ball-event-review/) but due to this event and other scheduling conflicts, I have had to postpone this review of probably one of the most loved children’s horror books in history! I apologise if you have already switched into a Mariah Carey fuelled festive mindset but this review is all about Goosebumps The Musical: Phantom Of The Auditorium! Unlike the 2015 movie titled “Goosebumps” starring the incredible Jack Black as R.L. Stine himself and the voice of a plethora of scary monsters, this musical adaptation is heavily inspired by the twenty-fourth novel in the goosebumps franchise with the same name. The show is brought to life by the amazing John Maclay who has a history of creating shows that are suitable for the whole family. Just like the books themselves and despite the spooky overtones, this musical is suitable for younger members in the audience especially if they are big fans of musical theatre!
The show follows our two lead characters Brook and Zeke who are cast as the main characters in the school’s production of the school show but strange things start to happen so they have to find out who is behind the spooky going-Ons. The narrative of Goosebumps is set up as an almost parody of the iconic musical Phantom of The Opera as it talks about someone who hides in the theatre, covers half their face, the supernatural elements that occur in the background and most relevantly are referred to as the phantom. The physical and musical nods to this very well known musical mean that fans of the genre will have an added layer of comedy to the show due to any moments of parody that occur which is a very clever inclusion that John Maclay has thought about! On top of the show being inspired by a musical, it is also comprised of a cast of theatre greats! This recording includes performances by Alex Brightman (who recently finished his run as Beetlejuice in the Broadway spooky musical of the same name), Will Roland (who is probably most well known for playing Jared in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen) and Krystina Alabado (who played Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls the musical ) as well as many other well-known theatre performers! The fact that this new musical contains many references to many other musicals is not only cleverly meta but also a great source of entertainment for any listeners who appreciate this genre!
There are just nineteen tracks in this musical which means that the entire album only covers just under an hour in time which makes it a very easy listen! The songs in this album are mostly incredibly fun and crammed full of energy which not only keeps the audience entertained throughout but also means that the time spent listening to the tracks fly by even quicker! I really enjoyed the opening titular number “Goosebumps” as it allowed a range of characters to introduce themselves to the audience without it coming across as a sort of roll call. Each character is able to perform a section of the number which all work together to help set up the spooky and atmospheric feeling to the show. Now having been involved in the theatre industry for a fairly long time, I am aware of how superstitious the performers can get so it is entirely plausible that a group of performers believe that someone is haunting a theatre with a cursed show. The songs “The Legend” and “The Story of Phantom” are both heavily narrative-based songs that explains the curse and the superstition around The Phantom play. My favourite number however would have to be “Watch your step”, performed by Alex Brightman, which is an insanely high energy number. The characterisation and musical accompaniment does give off very Genie from Aladdin style vibes (which Alex does excellently!) with the fun and comedy of the number integrated in a very clever way. While talking about other references, I thought that the child-like mystery of the show was very similar to Scooby-Doo with the track “Whodunit” being particularly mystery gang inspired. The number is about solving who is orchestrating the spooky going-on which a sense of whimsy and fun cleverly weaved throughout!
Overall this is a very cleverly written musical that is totally aware of itself and the genre it falls into. The songs are generally very high-energy and entertaining which makes for a very easy watch/listen which would be perfect for the spooky season (which we have unfortunately just passed!) but could also work during any part of the year. I would rate this musical 4.5 stars out of 5!