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Cult classics: Bricolage celebrates movies with devoted followings

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
In 'The 36th Chamber of Shaolin' (1978), Lui manages to escape a brutal Manchu attack and devotes himself to learning the martial arts in order to seek revenge. Credit: The Shaw Brothers
In 'Godzilla vs. Mothra' (1964), a greedy developer unwittingly hatches a gigantic baby moth upon Tokyo, while Godzilla strikes once again.

For the final installment of its 2013 Midnight Radio season, Bricolage Production Company gives us a reel deal.

A double feature of cult movie classics — “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” and “Godzilla vs. Mothra” — will receive Midnight Radio adaptations as part of its light-hearted celebration of films that may have died at the box office and been dismissed by critics but linger on in the hearts of a legion of followers.

“Critical acclaim doesn't come into it. ... The genre is so invested in the experience and trying to delight you that good or bad doesn't matter,” says Joe Lyons, a long-time fan of movies in general and cult movies in particular, as well as one of the authors for segments of “Midnight Radio: Cult Movie Classics.”

“Their hallmark is not that they are seen as great works of cinema but they speak to people,” says Gayle Pazerski, who collaborated on the show with Lyons and her husband, Brad Stephenson.

Now in its fourth season, Bricolage's Midnight Radio series has become popular with audiences looking for something different.

Following the format of a 1940s radio broadcast, a cast performs a pair of suspenseful-yet-funny dramas, complete with sound effects that embellish the tales with footsteps, slamming doors, claps of thunder and whatever else is needed to enhance reality.

Over a six-month period, the writing trio worked to condense the kung-fu classic “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” and the sci-fi thriller “Godzilla vs. Mothra” into 20-minute radio scripts that form the centerpiece of the show.

“It was tough to do. We wanted to keep the through line, the essence of the story,” Stephenson says. Cutting “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” was particularly tricky, since the original runs just under two hours.

They also wrote the spoofy commercials, game-show segment and fake breaking-news reports that are part of the evening, many of which draw on cult movie references.

The evening also includes musical interludes provided by a guest. In this case, it's Josh Verbanets, from the local indie-rock band Meeting of Important People, who plans to appear on stage with one or more of his bandmates at each performance.

Direct and indirect audience participation is always part of Midnight Radio.

That begins with a 30-minute pre-show happy hour in the lobby with games and entertainment that include a chalk board that encourages audience members to supply the words for a Mad Libs story that will be read on stage.

There's also a “Family Feud”-style game show that involves audience volunteers who compete to answer movie-trivia questions created by the authors.

“You don't need to be a fan of cult movies to enjoy it,” Pazerski says.

But you do need to bring a sense of humor.

“I wasn't serving as a curator,” Lyons says. “You tend to mock the things you love.”

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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