Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“Kitty Massacre: The Making of Milo and Otis” Premiers at The Annoyance

Unlike childhood classic, no animals will be harmed in this production

Lifting a plot from the childhood classic, “The Adventures of Milo and Otis,” Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre has announced the premier of  “Kitty Massacre: The Making of Milo and Otis,” which will preview Sept. 29 and October 6, then run Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through December 1.

Created by Jeremy Dionisio, and written by Dionisio and Liz Bell, “Kitty Massacre” zanily imagines what went on behind the scenes of the 1986 Japanese film classic. And since this is the Annoyance -- a theatre company renown for its satiric and comedic take on its themes -- this version pits an evil, domineering executive producer, Hal Higby, against a dedicated young producer, Maggie, and her animal wrangler fiancé, Charlie, while at the same time, coping with an unruly eccentric director, Tatsuo Nojima. The show promises, “romance, torture, greed.”

While the actual production was criticized for putting their live animal cast in continuous danger over the four years of shooting, Dionisio and Bell insist their animals -- Bell’s real-life rescued pets -- will remain adored, but unharmed throughout the show’s run.

Dionisio said he didn’t see the Masanori Hata-film when it first came out “because my mother ordered us to boycott the movie.” He eventually viewed it and it remained in his memory until the recent controversy surrounding the HBO show, “Luck” jarred it to top of mind. As for Bell, an  animal activist who will be participating in the Chicago Marathon as a PAWS Charity Runner,  she “loves the juxtaposition between this sweet, fuzzy, innocent children’s film about cuddly little kittens and puppies and the awful allegations of animal cruelty.”

Despite it being madcap, Dionisio sees his show “as a commentary on the machine-like approach of the film industry as they chew up and spit out young, aspiring actors. The movie we’re mocking seemed to burn through a stable of helpless animals.”

Along with Liz Bell, other members of the “Kitty Massacre” cast include Brittany Davis, Mantas Dumcius, Avery Lee, Jack Swokowski, and Ben Zisk. The show is also a homage to 1980’s pop culture, so the singing and dancing will feature hit songs, especially those of Lionel Richie.

Tickets are $20, $15 for students and during previews, and can be purchased either at The Annoyance website, www.annoyanceproductions.com, or by calling the box office at (773) 561-HONK (4665). The Annoyance is located at 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago, Illinois.

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