‘White City Murders’ features jaunty musical numbers, twisty lyrics

Commentary by Lisa Gauthier Mitchison
Ben Asaykwee is leaving an indelible tint of the macabre on the Phoenix Theatre’s Basile Theatre, first with his “Cabaret Poe” and now with “White City Murders.”
“White City Murders” is continuing its run at Phoenix Theatre. (Submitted Photo)

Much like “Cabaret Poe,”  “White City Murders” has jaunty musical numbers with twisty lyrics. The music itself is unusual, as the instrumentation is Asaykwee and Amanda Hummer’s vocalizations that are recorded, layered, and played back to accompany a number.

The setting is the Chicago World’s Fair and the protagonist, the infamous H.H. Holmes. Asaykwee and Hummer are all too happy to extoll the merits of being a showman and a serial killer. Bits of Holmes are revealed as we also learn about the Fair itself and many of the people who visited it.
And there are dance breaks. And tomfoolery. And, of course, murder.
Asaykwee’s trademark smirk and glint in his eye—you know the one, as if he is about to do something bad that’s really funny—are on display. Hummer is more earthy to Asaykwee’s ethereal, creating a complementary and wholly entertaining set of strange.
  • Extended through July 14, Thursdays–Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
  • $24–$37
  • www.phoenixtheatre.org

Lisa Gauthier Mitchison covers local theater at IndianapolisTheaterReviews.wordpress.com.