The original cast recording of Nothing Like Vaudeville, the critically acclaimed 1994 musical that was touted in its initial run as “Rocky Horror meets The Music Man” and “The Wizard Of Oz of Horror,” has arrived in the digital age.
The soundtrack, which was initially released in 1995, is now available for download on iTunes and numerous other internet sites.
From its modest beginnings at the Phantasy Theater in Cleveland, the show evolved and received praise from publications worldwide. In the later ‘90s, it was slightly rewritten and staged at Daytona Beach Community College. The show’s main composer, Ted Sikora, is currently in the process of revamping the show to bring it to the stage once again.
Nothing Like Vaudeville emerged from the early ‘90s vaudeville-influenced rock band of the same name launched by Ted and his brother Kurt Sikora. The group released a ten-song concept album and performed at numerous clubs in the region; in October 1993, the band performed a 15-minute horror show in Canal Fulton, Ohio as part of the annual Clay’s Park Haunted Halloween Festival. The Nothing Like Vaudeville Wax Museum Horror Show was developed and subsequently seen by nearly 3,000 people. One of those in attendance, Kevin James, who had an extensive background in theater, offered to help the brothers take the project to the next level
Ted Sikora has taken the revolutionary step of promoting the revamped version of this dynamic recording with a unique trailer (see below) featuring black and white footage and title cards—reflecting a style of silent filmmaking from the 1920s, the era in which Nothing Like Vaudeville is based.
Sheila Merritt caught up with Ted and asked him a few questions about the project:
1. Your musical, Nothing Like Vaudeville, has been called: “The Wizard of Oz of horror,” and “Rocky Horror meets The Music Man.” Are those descriptions you would use to depict it?
Ted Sikora: In general yes, obviously it’s a huge compliment to be mentioned alongside those shows. I have to admit that the Music Man tie-in came directly from me as it is my absolute favorite musical, and from inception, I’ve always aspired for Nothing Like Vaudeville to be like a bastard cousin of that piece in some weird way.
The Rocky Horror comparison came when we were developing the show. We did a 15 minute version entitled The Nothing Like Vaudeville Wax Museum Horror Show at a haunted festival. There was a group in the audience that kept coming to the show over and over and they would toss in their own ‘Rocky Horror audience’ type exclamations between our lines. It got us thinking that maybe we were on to something.
I think the Wizard of Oz comparison comes from our Freak’s journey being similar to Dorothy’s. They are both stories about being lost in a surreal landscape that is filled with crazy oddball musical characters.
2. Are there theatre composers/musicals that influenced the composition of the score?
Ted Sikora: In general, I try to avoid things that have been done no matter how much I admire it unless we can really spin it an original way. Music Man, again is an example of that. That show has that amazing barbershop quartet – we have four carnival vendors that break into song; and thoughout NLV there’s a lot of rhythmic speak/singing which is very ‘Trouble in River City-esque.’
3. Aside from any possible theatrical productions having an influence, were there specific bands or performers whose styles molded the show’s flavor?
Ted Sikora: That’s the thing. My brother Kurt, who co-scored several songs and did most of the arrangements, and I really came from a hard rock background, so Nothing Like Vaudeville was made with almost zero musical theater knowledge. On the hard rock side – being a guitar player – I personally loved old Van Halen. I’m sure it’s not evident when listening to the score though. I should also mention a guy by the name of Kevin James who co-wrote three of the songs and helped with plot coordination. Kevin came with some actual theater experience.
4. The song “Son of Hyde” is a riotous rendering of a split personality. Was it fun to write?
Ted Sikora: That’s one that evolved quite a bit from our band. The original hard rock version was told from the point of a very confused individual wondering why there was so much horror around him. For the stage it was fun to open it up as two sides of the personality singing at each other. I think Brian McCann really nailed the performance on that too.
5. That number has some great lyrics, such as “lonely is a feeling I simply cannot comprehend.” In the song “Wax Museum,” there’s also some well executed ironic word play: “Mr. Marceau, you never talk to me,” is an example. What is your process of integrating the lyrics and music?
Ted Sikora: So much of it is trying to keep a consistent mood. I always write music first, and then agonize for a 8 hours to 8 weeks on lyrics. It’s often about getting into a character’s head and giving new information about that character. It’s great when you have two people singing because it can be conversational. On a solo it tends to get very introspective, which is a bit tougher in my opinion.
6. The original cast recording for the 1994 show came out a year after the staging. Now, the music from the recording is available on iTunes and other sites. There is talk of staging the musical again. When do you think this might occur?
Ted Sikora: Since putting out the NLV Original Cast Recording Trailer and going live online with iTunes I’ve been approached by a few people that are interested in staging the show. Theaters tend to book at least a year in advance, so I hope within two years we would see that happen.
7. Do you intend to write another horror themed musical?
Ted Sikora: There’s no plans right now for another horror musical, but relating to the last question Nothing Like Vaudeville has been a constantly evolving piece, and every time it’s staged it is changed significantly. So I know there will be new songs written and altered before it’s truly done. My last project was a feature film entitled Hero Tomorrow, and I’d love to do a Nothing Like Vaudeville feature film as a follow up to that piece.
You can learn more about this horror musical at: Nothing But Vaudeville