Why a musical about a serial killer?
First, this show isn't what you may think. It's about much more.
This case is part of American History- a buried secret from our past. The story is stranger than fiction- a real-life case of Jekyll and Hyde. It can even serve as an allegory- a mirror held up to our culture's darkest parts. It exemplifies how we as a society see only what we want and how we often hide our shame from the light of day- as many have wished to do with this dark story. Instead, this show confronts unsettling truths head-on.
Music can elevate words, convey emotion, and elegantly communicate even the most difficult stories. We believe it makes this tragic and cautionary tale more accessible- transforming and humanizing this dark subject matter into an experience that transcends the sensationalism so often attached to it. John was a showman of extremes. He had vastly different sides to his character, and the pain he inflicted on others was deep. The show does not glorify or sensationalize him or his actions. John is characterized as he was in life- a confusing man of contradictions and cruelty. We present his abusive childhood and repressed sexuality as true parts of his life- not to justify his violence. This is a psychological thriller that deals with concepts of evil, cycles of abuse, the criminal justice system, sexual stigmas, and mental health issues- issues very relevant to our current times. It poses serious questions, and where there are no answers, none are given. In presentation and tone, it is similar to Sondheim's Assassins.
If you have an open-mind and enjoy being challenged by theater, Crawlspace offers a layered story with much to explore. Themes of repression, fear, shame, outcasts, judgment, obsession, and cycles of violence are also prevalent throughout- making it surprisingly relevant to our current times. Most importantly- it's not what you might expect. I encourage you to Look Beneath the Surface. You might be surprised by what you find.
We hope to leave the audience with questions to ponder:
Does evil exist? If so, was John born evil?
How and why does society create outcasts, knowingly and unknowingly?
What led a societal outcast to prey on others like him?
Was John a perfect chameleon, hiding his secret life from view?
Or were his neighbors, friends, and family merely apathetic to visible warning signs?
Would you have seen them?
How does homophobia figure into this story and did the case help perpetuate it?
What is behind our culture's fascination with true crime?
What are the dangers of obsession?
Why are the long-term effects of abuse so different for each victim?
Is it possible to sympathize with a man like John?
After hearing the story, will you begin to see John in everyone you encounter?