Theatre in Film: Stage Fright (2014)

Written by Ashleigh Gardner

October 25, 2016

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Theatre in Film series for a Halloween special. This week, we feature the 2014 Canadian horror movie musical comedy Stage Fright.

Stage Fright (2014)

Director: Jerome Sable
Starring: Allie MacDonald, Minnie Driver, Meat Loaf (Marvin Lee Aday), Douglas Smith, Brandon Uranowitz, Kent Nolan, Ephraim Ellis, and Melanie Leishman

What happens:

When Camilla and Buddy’s mother, Kylie (Minnie Driver), opens the musical The Haunting of the Opera on Broadway, she’s met with applause in the theatre — and her murder in the dressing room. Kylie is stabbed viciously by a masked intruder who resembles the play’s Opera Ghost, and her children are entrusted to Roger McCall (Meat Loaf), Kylie’s main squeeze.

Ten years later, Roger owns a musical theatre summer camp called Center Stage, and Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith) are the summer camp’s cooks. Roger decides to do a revival of The Haunting of the Opera and holds auditions, giving Artie (Brandon Uranowitz) full creative control. Artie casts two leading ladies: Camilla and Liz (Melanie Leishman) and sets the play in Japan and uses traditional kabuki theatre. One night, Artie ventures onto the empty stage and is murdered by a masked assailant in the costume of the Opera Ghost in a scarred kabuki mask. Terrified that she is the cause, Camilla nearly refuses to play Sofia but agrees to go on the following evening. On opening night, murders continue to happen — Whitney, the costume designer (Chelsey Pozdyk), Sam, the play’s Opera Ghost (Ephraim Ellis), and Sheila, a chorus girl (Leanne Miller) — all killed brutally while the killer serenades himself and his victims with rock opera numbers. When Sam fails to show up onstage, stage manager David Martin (Thomas Alderson) must comically dance and sing onstage with the bound and gagged Liz Silver. Meanwhile, backstage, Roger and Camilla are being chased by the killer who wields a gigantic chef’s knife. When Camilla unmasks the Opera Ghost murderer, she finds out that the person underneath is someone no one would ever suspect. (No spoilers. Watch it and get your murder musical on.)

Why it matters:

Considering the horror genre isn’t one that theatre enters very often (and this is a fun break from my usual textual analysis), this’ll be short and sweet.

Stage Fright could be a metaphor for the horror actors and musical theatre aficionados experience when they find out they have to compete for a role. It could be symbolic of the exploitation adults put teenagers through when the adult wishes to gain fame or fortune from the talent of a young person. It could also be a fun genre-bending romp through the horror universe via the vehicle of musical theatre. ‘Nuff said. The opening scene is below — don’t be fooled by its cheery lyrics. It’s still a horror movie.

Welcome to Theatre in Film:

Want to start with Part I? Begin with 42nd Street (1933).
Miss Part II? Check out The Band Wagon (1953).
Need a refresh for Part III? Start with our feature on All That Jazz (1979).
How about a recap from Part IV? Jump into A Chorus of Disapproval (1989).

Ashleigh Gardner received her AA in Theatre/Drama/Dramatic Arts from Valencia College and her Bachelors Degree in English Literature and Masters Degree in Literary, Cultural, and Textual Studies from the University of Central Florida. She is a playwright, an actor, and’s Editor. 
Thumbnail image from Stage Fright. Copyright © Entertainment One and Magnolia Pictures 2014.