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Sketch comedy meets horror in HCP's Halloween production

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By Robert Villanueva

If you go: "Another HCP Halloween," a fundraising production presented by Hardin County Playhouse, is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater complex in Elizabethtown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (270) 352-0577.

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What would it have been like if Judge Judy had presided over the Salem Witch Trials? Or what if serial killer Aileen Wuornos and suspected axe murderer Lizzie Borden were among the all-female hosts of a talk show?

Audiences will get a chance to find out when “Another HCP Halloween” is performed at Plum Alley Theater on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Hardin County Playhouse production is one of two fundraisers for the organization. Bo Cecil,  HCP artistic director,  Ron Blair, board of directors president, and HCP regular Josh Logsdon co-wrote the bulk of the 10 to 15 scenes.

HCP staged the Halloween production for the first time in 2009.

“This one’s more cohesive than the first one,” Blair said.

“Another HCP Halloween” has a television theme. The subjects and skits are presented in a way that fits “the monster universe,” Blair said.

“It’s done as a telethon,” he said.

Unlike this year’s production, the first production of “Another HCP Halloween” was more like a G-rated show, Logsdon said.

“This is for adults and teens,” Logsdon said, explaining the show would garner a PG-13 rating if it were a movie.

“It’s just like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ episode,” Blair said.

Skits spoof things like C-Span, changing it to Monster C-Span, where monster commentators lament things like the possibility of tax hikes on black cauldrons and the banning of candy houses.

“We wanted to do something really different,” Logsdon said. “We wanted more sketch comedy in it.”

The production includes more than 120 characters, he said. It also includes “quite a few” audience interactions.

Such is the case for a scene called “Slasher of the Year,” which pits the fictional hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees, from the “Friday the 13th” movie series, against coverall-wearing killer Michael Myers from the “Halloween” movie series.

Throughout the production recognizable characters, fictional and real, make appearances. In a Judge Judy skit, for instance, TV’s “Bewitched” character, Samantha Stevens, pleads her case to no avail.

Carrie Rhea, who portrays Judge Judy, said the production was a lot of fun and “a little bit of organized chaos.”

“I’ve seen it several times,” Rhea said of “Judge Judy,” the TV show. “But I did get on YouTube and watched a few clips.”

Other scenes include a send up of the ’60s game show “The Newlywed Game,” aptly retitled “The Newly Dead Game,” and a takeoff on current TV talk show “The View,” renamed “The Skew.” The latter skit finds Wuornos, Borden, Eva Braun and the fictional character Annie Wilkes welcoming as guests the two creepy ghost girls from Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

In a scene that features a cooking show, TV personality Paula Deen contends with her special guest, the fictional cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter.

Mitch Curry, who plays Lecter, said he had to go back and watch the movie “Silence of the Lambs” to hone his portrayal. He found Lecter’s personality to be “very controlled.”

The role of Deen required actress Karen Tully Simmons to do a bit of research, too.

“I had never seen her until I did this skit,” Simmons said.

Like Rhea and other HCP actors, Simmons plays multiple roles in the production, including one that finds her playing the mother of fictional telekinetic teen Carrie White. Her real-life daughter, Jennifer Simmons, plays Carrie.

Simmons said she’s never played such characters before but enjoyed the silly and far-out aspects.

“It gives me a chance to stretch, acting-wise,” Simmons said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.