Shockheaded Peter: A musical where humor and creepy collide

Photo by Alex Ungerman

Shockheaded Peter, the creepy yet disturbingly hilarious musical, is anything but forgettable; from the amazing talent to the dimmed lights accompanied by a weird recording of children talking and laughing, directors Alex Ungerman and Dave Mortensen brought an eerie spirit to the theater and the Halloween season.

“Seeing shows like this just proves that you don’t have to go to New York City to see amazing theater,” BYU theater arts major Teagan Clark said.

The MC, Sarah Shippobotham and the players, Leviticus Brown, Brenda Hattingh, Emily Nash and Shawn Francis Saudners, were committed to their characters. They never broke character once, no matter how outlandish, disturbing or crazy their roles became. The live band was a unique element to this musical. The lead singer, Ashley Wilkinson, had a wide range and good projection. She probably didn’t even need a microphone.

Some audience members enjoyed their time at the play and found it to be very creative and a great production. Others felt that it was a little too creepy for their liking. BYU theater studies major Payton Boyack doesn’t like anything frightening, scary or creepy, so this play was not her favorite. Also, Whitney Baker, a UVU secondary math education freshman, doesn’t like anything scary either. But, other audience members, like Elise Garcia, really enjoyed the performance because of its creativity and the interesting characters.

Sackerson, the theater where Shockheaded Peter is currently showing, was founded by Dave Sackerson, BYU alumnus, and two UVU alumni, Alex Ungerman and Daniel Whiting.

“We wanted to create good work so we started a company to do that,” said Sackerson.

Shockheaded Peter is a musical based off the popular German children’s book Struwwelpeter (1985) by Heinrich Hoffmann. The authors of the 1998 musical combined elements of pantomime and puppetry to create a horrifying and hilarious theatrical experience. The songs follow a darker version of the poems that come from the original Struwwelpeter books. For example, the children only die sometimes in the original, however they all die in the musical. The play first debuted in Leeds, England in 1998 before moving to London and all over the world.

Shockheaded Peter will be performed at Sackerson in Salt Lake City until Nov. 4.

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