A Musical Comedy About Charles Manson: Too Soon, or Finally?

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He's ready to break into song!

"I'm going to hell." That's how cutting edge theater maker Matthew Posey wraps up his announcement about his next show at his Ochre House studio. It's called Mean and it's a musical comedy about the first meeting between creepy 1960s hippie-cult leader Charlie Manson and his accomplice, Tex Watson, who would go on to murder people on Charlie's orders.

Posey is writing, directing and starring as Watson in the show, which, like all Ochre House productions, will be performed by members of Posey's own weird little family of actors, nicknamed "The Ochre House Boys." Mitchell Parrack stars as Charlie. Anastasia Munoz plays Squeaky Fromme (the member of Charlie's bunch who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford). In the show, the three meet for the first time in a dive bar in Twentynine Palms, California. Joining them are a western singer (Justin Locklear) and two messengers from God (Dante Martinez, Elizabeth Evans).

"Mean is an exploration of human nature," Posey says in his description of the show. "In particular, how the brutal actions of a single man can affect the consciousness of this country, and how sometimes such savagery is necessary to bring about change. It begs the question, `Would the world be better with or without Manson?'"

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By Elaine Liner
Matthew Posey and Walter the dog are ready to make music with Manson.
Manson, now 77, has been in a California penitentiary for more than 40 years for his part in the brutal murders in 1969 of actress Sharon Tate, heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, screenwriter Woyciech Frykowski and three others in what became known as the Tate-LaBianca killings. The cases were detailed in the best seller Helter Skelter by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi. The book served as research material for Posey's show.

Original music for Mean is by Justin Locklear, Trey Pendergrass and Lyle Hathaway, with lyrics by Parrack. Also in the cast are Kevin Grammer, Delilah Buitron, Trenton Stephenson and Cyndee Rivera.

"It's madness and mayhem served on a musical platter," says Posey.

In every new production at Ochre House over the past year, Posey and his players have pushed against limits of taste, material and size. He did a smart, spectacular send-up of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and followed it with a highly acclaimed biographical play (with music and nudity) about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

If anyone can make us laugh in spite of ourselves at the awful deeds of the Manson family, it'll be Matthew Posey.

Mean opens February 17 and plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 3. Tickets are $15 at the door. Reservations, call 214-826-6273. Ochre House is at 825 Exposition Avenue by Fair Park.

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3 comments
Dalaina patterson
Dalaina patterson

 For over 40 years a man has been incarcerated unjustly for brutal crimes of which he had no involvement or participation. This specific case has had the most amounts of sensationalism and media exaggeration surrounding it than any other criminal trial in US history. It was also the first case to be purposely over hyped to sell millions of dollars in book and movie sales, exploiting not only the victims of the horrendous crimes, but the name and reputation of this man unfairly imprisoned. His name is Charles Manson, and for the last 43 years he has maintained the same story of noninvolvement in the crimes he was charged with. Even Dr. Jack Levin, a leading US criminologist, has stated how unusual it is for an incarcerated person to remain the same story for so long without change, and he has suggested that Manson may be innocent of these horrible crimes after all. Charles Manson himself has said, that the right people who committed the crimes are behind bars, referring to Charles Denton Watson “Tex”, Patricia Krenwinkle, Leslie Van Houten and the late Susan Atkins. The only thing Charles Manson was guilty of is being aware of the people who committed the crimes, not murder. Over the years, many people have become aware of the injustices surrounding Manson’s trial and incarceration. These people out of the compassion of their hearts, and the noble pursuit of justice, have researched the case in depth and found many grounds for a mistrial, and evidence pointing at Manson’s innocence. The conduct of the prosecution and the economic gains of the prosecutors future, were founded upon a sensationalized conviction. The crucial points of injustice and matters which should be reviewed, as grounds for an unfair trial are as follows: 1)Charles Manson was denied a proper defense. His rights to pro per to act as his own attorney were taken away from him, and when he was given a lawyer, he was not allowed to call any witnesses on his behalf. The entire case rested without one defense witness being allowed on the stand. 2)Before the trial even began, an prominent Los Angeles newspaper displayed on its front page “MANSON GUILTY DECLARES NIXON.” This act alone would be grounds for a mistrial, because it biased the entire jury pool. Even Joseph Ball, who was appointed to determine if Manson was fit to serve as his own attorney, agreed that it was impossible for Manson to receive a fair trial because of the nation bias because of the statement by president Nixon. 3)One of the jurors on the trial stole an evidence photograph of the Tate murder scenes and sold it to a European newspaper. This juror was not removed from the juror panel and was still allowed to serve in the trial. Another ground for mistrial. 4)The entire prosecution was dependent on the testimony of Linda Kasabian whom was present at the Tate murders, and testified in exchange to walk completely free from the death penalty charge that rest of the people charged were facing. She was bribed and given gifts from the DA and prosecuting attorneys. 5)“Helter Skelter” the concept the DA provided as motive for the crimes, was completely disproven by many witnesses and people associated with the case who were not allowed to testify. Even the people involved with the murders have stated that the motive was to free their friend in an attempt to create copycat crimes, and not the fictitious story of ‘Helter Skelter.’ In other words, Manson had nothing to do with the crimes, nor did he order them to be committed. As Susan Atkins stated, ‘the crimes were to free Bobby Beausoleil from jail’, by creating copycat killings. Without the 'Helter Skelter' motive, there was no grounds to charge Manson. Also if the defendants truly believed in the nonsense 'Helter Skelter' myth, then that would render the defendants completely insane and unfit to stand trial. Joseph Ball, Manson's psychological evaluator, determined Manson to be a sane, able, intelligent young man, quiet-spoken and mild-mannered.

Mcairo67
Mcairo67

If you actually read the details of the murders in total graphic detail, and you read how Mr. Manson took advantage of young women and used them a sexual tools, it's hard to see the humor in it.  That said, Mel Brooks' Springtime for Hitler bit was quite funny, and in its day, was probably just as controversial as this idea here.  I just think we live in a more politically correct time than Mel Brooks did.  I think it's a huge gamble, but that's what art is all about, I guess.

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