Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon

A ‘Hot Mess’ of a zombie jamboree

Fertile Ground: Mark LaPierre and Ian Anderson-Priddy's zombie comic-book musical will make your pulse rush. If you have one.

|

Sex! Music! Zombies! Comics! 

Do I have your attention? If I don’t, you might not have a pulse. But don’t fret: Hot Mess—a comic-book musical by Mark LaPierre (music, lyrics, and book) and Ian Anderson-Priddy (art and animation)—is the province of the undead. A combination of Scooby Doo and EDM, Hot Mess – A Zombie Musical is almost certainly unlike anything you’ve seen before. “It’s shamelessly attention-seeking,” LaPierre says with a laugh. Hot Mess premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, as a part of Fertile Ground’s online festival of new works. Festival projects remain available to stream for free through Feb. 15 on Fertile Ground’s Facebook and YouTube channels.


ONLINE FESTIVAL: FERTILE GROUND 2021


The musical opens on Tiffany (voiced by Erin Tamblyn) and her hair-raisingly crass boyfriend “Playya” (voiced by LaPierre) wandering a graveyard at 4 a.m. The couple are supposed to be attending a joint funeral for three of Tiffany’s friends (who died under mysterious circumstances), but it turns out Tiffany got the time wrong. In the graveyard there are unexpected run-ins with old friends, a hilarious ode-to-sex sung by Playya, and a chorus of the walking dead (who also dance). The comic-book musical feels like something that would air on Adult Swim (Aqua Teen Hunger Force comes to mind); it’s kind of alienating to watch, but nevertheless it’s campy, catchy, and downright funny. 

Comic-book zombies and a “Hot Mess.” image by Bowan Hampton and Ian Anderson-Priddy.

Hot Mess is an adaptation of LaPierre’s stage musical, originally titled Zombie Strippers, that premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2016. “The entire idea behind the festival was: things you shouldn’t do in musical theater,” says LaPierre. Ergo, Zombie Strippers. The musical has undergone many changes over the years, growing from a one-act to a full evening of theater; Hot Mess marks LaPierre’s most recent return to that material. 

LaPierre says he’d been wanting to combine graphic novels with musical theater for a while. Fertile Ground’s all-virtual festival presented the perfect opportunity. And, as with everything, Covid played a role. “Me and Ian, we both make our lives in theater completely,” says LaPierre, “so we got some time.” LaPierre says the whole process—storyboarding, animating, recording dialogue with actors (the music had been finished as a demo pre-Covid)—took about three months. He hopes the genre catches on. “I want to make this a form,” LaPierre says. The film, subtitled “Fun and Games,” runs nearly twenty minutes and is intended to be the first installation in a series. 

LaPierre says he wants Hot Mess to serve as an “amusing respite” to an already horrifying past eleven months. “I want to take the idea of something you can catch that might kill you and put it into a much safer metaphor,” says LaPierre, “which is zombies running around.” 

Sponsor

Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon

***

  • Hot Mess debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4. All festival projects will be available through Feb. 15 to stream on Fertile Ground’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

***

PREVIOUS STORIES ABOUT FERTILE GROUND 2021:

  • Fertile Ground 2021: Digital seedlings sprout. Bennett Campbell Ferguson previews the festival and talks with director Nicole Lane about the switch from live to online viewing.
  • Interactive cookies and scares. Bennett Campbell Ferguson writes about two plays with interactive aspects: Fold in Gently and RE: Lilith Lopez.
  • Martha Bakes in Black & White. Bobby Bermea talks with playwright Don Wilson Glenn and director Damaris Webb about Martha Bakes, a play about race and history and the nation’s first First Lady in her colonial kitchen.
  • Tough questions, tough answers. Lisa Collins’ “wonderful and exacting” new play Be Careful What You Ask For delves into a Portland killing and matters of race, Max Tapogna writes.
  • The rhythm and meaning of lilies. Poet Joni Whitworth and filmmaker Hannah Piper Burns find the mythic amid the reality of Covid-19, Max Tapogna writes.

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

Max Tapogna writes about theater, music and culture for Oregon ArtsWatch. His writing has been published in Bloomberg Pursuits, Document Journal, Willamette Week, Portland Mercury, Crosscurrents Literary Magazine and more. As an actor, Max has had the pleasure of performing with companies like Shaking the Tree and Broadway Rose. Originally from Portland, Max currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.
SHARE:
Chamber Music Northwest Beethoven's Complete Piano Trios The Old Church Portland Oregon
City of Hillsboro Walters Cultural Arts Center She's Speaking Live! Hillsboro Oregon
Grace Goudy Distinguished Artists Series Willamette University Salem Oregon
Portland State University College of Arts William Shakespeare Measure for Measure PSU Portland Oregon
Portland Chamber Orchestra Young Artist Competition University of Portland Free Event Portland Oregon
Portland Area Theatre Alliance Fertile Ground Portland Oregon
Portland Art Museum Virtual Sneakers to Cutting Edge Kicks Portland Oregon
Tilikum Chamber Orchestra Lake Oswego High School Fairy Tales and Folk Songs Lake Oswego Oregon
Portland Center Stage at the Armory Quixote Nuevo Portland Oregon
Portland Columbia Symphony Realm of Nature Beaverton and Gresham Oregon
Portland Opera The Snowy Day Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
White Bird Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon
Northwest Dance Project Sarah Slipper Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
Corrib Theatre Contemporary Irish Theatre Portland Oregon
Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington
Metropolitan Youth Symphony Music Concert Rooted Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
White Bird Dance Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Newmark Theater Portland Oregon
Newport Visual and Performing Arts Newport Oregon Coast
High Desert Museum Sensing Sasquatch Indigenous Art & Knowledge Bend Oregon
Oregon Cultural Trust donate
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.