Stacy Skroch Lester
Musical Mayhem turns seven.
It’s been seven years since Donnie Cianciotto first made mayhem of Broadway’s greatest hits with a cast of actors and improvisers in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2012, he moved the project to Tucson, where his artistic vision, Musical Mayhem, grew such strong roots it survived its founder’s success. The company continued to thrive even after Cianciotto left to seek his fortune in New York City.
The prodigal returns to celebrate Seven Years of Mayhem at 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, at Unscrewed Theatre. Tickets are $7 via squareup.com/store/musical-mayhem-cabaret; $10 at the door.
As director, Cianciotto brings fresh perspective to the anniversary show, based on his recent experience directing and acting in off-Broadway productions. Among other projects, he produces the popular Trans Voices Cabaret at the legendary Duplex Piano Bar and Cabaret Theater in Greenwich Village. That show spotlights transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer musical theater performers.
Returning former members will bulk up the current Mayhem cast for the anniversary special. They’ll appear in person and via video, both live and recorded. Alumni featured include Jillian Mitchell, China Young, Morgan Smith and other audience favorites. The full cast includes Veronica Conran, Kirsten Cummins, Abigail Dunscomb, Cinder Elliot, Lety Gonzalez, David Gunther, Melanie Kersey, Tristan Kluge, Melanie Kondziolka, Katie Popiel, Alyson Precie, Jessica Pryde, Cameron Rau, Nathalie Rodriguez, Mandy Ressler, Nicolette Shaffer, Morgan Smith, Brin Wassenberg, Lani Villanueva, Deborah Witchey.
The company creates new musical skits for every show. For the anniversary, they’ve re-imagined songs from Rent
, Reefer Madness
, My Fair Lady
, Side Show
, Book of Mormon
, Les Misérables
and animated favorites Hercules
, The Little Mermaid
and others. Expect classic tunes to show up onstage as puns, send-ups, dress-ups and even new story lines, under-rehearsed and over-dramatic in the Musical Mayhem tradition.
Mayhem found its permanent home at Unscrewed Theatre after spending its formative years at the former Colors Food & Spirits, New Moon and Fluxx Theatres. The last time Cianciotto performed with Mayhem at Unscrewed Theater was in their five-year anniversary show, just before he returned to his New York City hometown to star in a critically acclaimed musical and New York Times Critic’s Pick, Southern Comfort.
“It was quite the jump to go from under rehearsed and over dramatic to adequately rehearsed and appropriately dramatic,” says Cianciotto, “but performing at the world-renowned Public Theater (A Chorus Line, Hamilton) was a dream come true for me.” Cianciotto now lives in the Bronx with his wife, former Mayhem cast member Rebecca Cianciotto.