Although you may have thought the vampire craze had long since reached critical mass and collapsed under its own bulging excess, it appears the trend has not yet been staked in the heart Walking the line somewhere between the chaste, no-biting-till-marriage vampires of Twilight and the fuck-anything-that-moves vamps of True Blood is Bite Me a Little, a vampire musical by local playwright and composer Arlie Conner.
With a plot both convoluted and clichéd, the performance is akin to watching the cast of Waiting for Guffman attempt to stage The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is not wholly a bad thing—there is plenty of charm to be found in the so-bad-it's-good comedy genre, and Bite Me does manage a smattering of genuine laughs. Unfortunately, the show gets bogged down in rough transitions and a less-than-believable romance between a virgin and a vampire.
Set mostly within the nightclub Dr. Hurt's Palace of Pain, Bite Me finds 28-year-old boy Ben Davies (Travis Ezell) looking for a venue to host his high school reunion and generally jeez golly-ing his way into dangerous situations. At first determined to win back his high school love, Jenny (Rachel Rosenfield), Ben soon falls for the nightclub's Jessica Rabbit-esque singer Raven Hurt (Sydney Weir). Meanwhile, detective Joe Brookhyser (Martin Brother) is investigating a series of mysterious murders that seem to lead back to Dr. Hurt (Adam Davis). Hijinks ensue and not-so-shocking secrets are revealed through 17 original songs and partially staged readings.
The success of any musical relies on the music, and here, luckily, Bite Me a Little shows some promise. I even found myself humming the tune to the bouncy number "Forget (@*!#) Jenny" the next day. The real appeal lies in the role of lead vampire Dr. Hurt, whose lust for blood is surpassed only by his lust for the spotlight as he belts several numbers with a Tom Waits growl and impressive showmanship. Unfortunately, the show reprises two of the weakest songs at the end with "Vampire Bounce," a second-rate "Time Warp" knockoff, and "Make Love Work," which rhymes "sky" with "by and by" (cue eye-rolling here).
Performed as part of the Fertile Ground festival, Bite Me a Little may not be opening on Broadway next year, but the enthusiasm in the performances is evident, and we could all use some kitsch in our diet—at least a little.
Look for future performances of Bite Me a Little at bitemealittle.com.