Stage adaptation of cult film ‘Fright Night’ has European premiere in Prague

The 1985 horror comedy is finding new life on the stage, and will presented with actors, puppetry, and live music by Prague Horrortheater. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.10.2022 14:18:00 (updated on 07.10.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Fall is definitely the spooky season. Theater company Prague Horrortheater will be presenting the European premiere of the stage adaptation of the classic 1985 horror film “Fright Night.” The first staging is on Oct. 17 at Divadlo D21 in Vinohrady, and there are additional shows in November.

Prague Horrortheater exclusively stages horror. Earlier this year they presented “The Cabinet of Doctor Tumblety” at a Prague cafe and also hold horror-themed open mic nights.

The film “Fight Night,” which featured Roddy McDowall among the cast, was a moderate hit on its release and earned fairly good reviews, with critics citing its blend of horror and humor. Review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film at 81 percent.

The stage adaptation written by James Michael Shoberg will be presented by a team of directors, actors, sound designers, video artists, live musicians, and puppeteers from across Europe.

Tom Holland, who directed the 1985 film as well as several other horror classics, said he was satisfied with other productions of the play. He also gave a brief acknowledgment on Twitter of the Prague production, which he of course has not seen. "Love this!!" he said, referring to a poster shared by the playwright Shoberg.

The plot revolves around Charley Brewster, an all-American teen. He is the boy who cried “vampire!” His obsession with horror movies leads his friends to be skeptical when he tries to convince people that his new neighbor is a vampire responsible for a recent series of bloody incidents. He seeks help from the one person who must understand, a horror film actor who now presents old B movies on TV.

Prague Horrortheater says the story is about growing up, finding your own true self, and the joy of fitting in – even into a tribe of blood-lusting vampires.

Director Gordon L. Schmitz said that “Fright Night'” isn't something the troupe would normally do on stage.

“We're not particularly interested in horror films. Their influence on our work has always been marginal. However, when we were offered the chance to produce the European premiere of the theatrical adaptation, we began to look at the story about a teenager, who is convinced that his charming new neighbor is a serial-killing vampire, in a slightly different context,” he said.

He added that the intention is not to simply present the play in a classic manner, but rather in a stylized setting.

“A central scene of the play takes place in a nightclub, so why not have a rock musician on stage accompanying the happening with a few chords the whole time? An actor in a werewolf costume is ridiculous, so why not incorporate more abstract artistic elements like puppetry? What we are planning goes far beyond what most people imagine when they think of horror theater,” he said.

Roddy McDowall, right, in the 1985 film 'Fright Night.' Photo: Columbia Pictures.
Roddy McDowall, right, in the 1985 film 'Fright Night.' Photo: Columbia Pictures.

The cast is led by Theo Jacques, who has earned a gold medal from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMBDA), and Scott Sophos, who has appeared in Prague Shakespeare Company productions and the TV show “Knightfall.” The crew members come from various cultural backgrounds such as India, Russia, Italy, South Korea, and China.

While the troupe is relatively new to Prague, they have been around for over a decade. They began as Cologne Horror Theater in 2011 by staging satirical pieces modeled on the Grand Guignol tradition. These were called “The Cabinet of Doctor Tumblety,” a riff on the title of a famous German silent horror film “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.”

They toured Germany until 2014 and afterward settled in Hamburg to develop radio plays. They also began to be active internationally in the Czech Republic, France, and Switzerland with workshops and readings aimed at youth.

They soon began dabbling in more serious drama with stage plays and radio plays inspired by classic horror literature. In 2018 they launched the “Hamburg Horror Slam.” That open-mic style event still continues in Prague. They turned Bram Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest” into a short film in the summer of 2021 to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the publication of “Dracula.”

In autumn 2021, the group relocated to Prague with new members and also turned their attention to English-language productions including a revival of the “The Cabinet of Doctor Tumblety” series. “Fright Night” is their most ambitious project to date.

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