POSEIDON! An Upside down Musical
Hell in a Handbag Productions

Final Performance 9/27/09

"high-concept camp delights… a great summer cruise …"Poseidon" will float your boat” Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune
”If you didn’t catch Poseidon! the first time around, get on board. We promise you’ll flip” - Kris Vire, TimeOut Chicago 04/30/09
"5 Shows to See Now" - NewCity Chicago
2003 NY Fringe Festival Best Ensemble Acting

buy tickets

06/18/09 - 09/27/09

Thu-Sat 8p; Sun 3p

EXTENDED 5 MORE WEEKS - must close 9/27/09
Some have seen this 3 TIMES
Repeaters discounts - Poseidon@handbagproductions.org

On the Fringe: Flipping for 'Poseidon' one more time - Kerry Reid Chicago Tribune 6/26/09

" The 1972 mother-of-all-disaster-flicks carries a sentimental attachment for many of us -- that remains untarnished by tawdry memories of 1979's "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and the 2006 not-really-a-remake IMAX-infused "Poseidon."

David Cerda first raised the roof in 2002 with his "Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical," a goofy and affectionate tribute to the film and "Poseidonites" everywhere. Now Hell in a Handbag has taken the old girl out for one more voyage, and despite a few glitches, it's mostly a great summer cruise, filled with equal parts acerbic deconstruction of disaster-movie tropes (the band of plucky survivors fighting and falling for each other) and real affection for the film's hopeful message, as expressed in the gospel-tinged "Keep on Climbing."

The framing device here is that "David" (Cerda himself, a vision in an oft-referenced 1970s polyester jumpsuit) hosts an annual New Year's Eve screening party of "The Poseidon Adventure" for a gaggle of costumed friends, misfits all. Scenes with the party guests, newbies and vets alike, interrupt the "film" more often than necessary with petty backbiting drama, but a couple of monologues by Cerda and fellow party guest Lara (Adrienne Smith) provide a touching picture of why this particular ship of fools matters so much to them.

But if sentiment isn't your bag, rest assured that the parody of the film, plus the songs (composed by Cerda with assists from Scott Lamberty and Taylor E. Ross; Cheryl Snodgrass helped with the book) provide high-concept camp delights. The cast embodies the original actors to a startling degree, especially Michael Hampton as Ernest Borgnine's lovable-lug cop, Mike Rogo, who bellows "Don't interrupt the Oscar moment" during his Big Moment of Truth speech. Ed Jones' Nonnie, the dumb-as-a-deck-chair lounge singer, is a marvel of blank-eyed hysteria, and Trista Smith as reformed hooker Linda Rogo, who knocks the stuffings out of "Just Panties (What Else Do I Need?)," based on Stella Stevens' most memorable line in the film.

Director Matthew Gunnels and choreographer Brigitte Ditmars keep the large ensemble in sync. For those who prefer summertime theatrical comfort food with extra-sharp cheese, "Poseidon" will float your boat".

Hell in a Handbag’s production comes back to the Chopin: Poseidon! gets a second sinking Kris Vire TimeOut Chicago 4/30/09

"A campy musical docks in Chicago for a second sinking.

There’s got to be a morning after. So says the Oscar-winning theme from The Poseidon Adventure, the 1972 camp classic about an ocean liner capsized by a tidal wave. (It was produced by disaster-movie maven Irwin Allen, whose other projects included The Towering Inferno and TV-movie gems Fire! and Flood!)

David Cerda’s inspired parody, Poseidon!, first produced by Hell in a Handbag in 2002, gets its morning after with a June 18–July 26 remount at the Chopin (1543 W Division St, 800-838-3006; handbagproductions.org). It’s framed as a play within a play:

Attendees at a New Year’s Eve Poseidon party—the movie is set during New Year’s—sit down for a screening (allowing for direct, heckling commentary); as the “guests” move in and out of the party, they double as the movie characters.

The humor can be delightfully broad, as when Cerda turns Shelley Winters’s line “In the water, I’m a very skinny lady” into a faux-underwater musical number, but also brilliantly subtle, like when you realize, pre–tidal wave, the ship’s house band is playing the Diana Ross tune “Upside Down.” If you didn’t catch Poseidon! the first time around, get on board. We promise you’ll flip"

RECOMMENDED - Meghan Powell TimeOut Chicago 6/25-7/1/09
"As ardent, costumed fans gather for their annual New Year’s Eve viewing of the gloriously histrionic 1972 disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure, one of them complains that the 2006 remake (the one starring Kurt Russell and tons of CGI) lacks heart. By contrast, Hell in a Handbag’s remount of its 2002 hit parody musical is unexpectedly satisfying, more than a campy homage.

Beneath the surface of Gunnels’s clever staging of the ocean liner’s fatal capsizing, there’s some earnest, solid musical theater. Writer-composer Cerda’s songs spring from some of the movie’s most memorable lines—“(In the Water) I’m a Very Skinny Lady” and the peerless “Just Panties (What Else Do I Need?)” among them—and the cast sings and dances the hell out of them with relish, all the while nailing the film’s characters. Michael Hampton and Trista Smith riotously re-create Ernest Borgnine’s blustery cop and Stella Stevens’s brassy ex-hooker wife; Ed Jones’s blank-eyed turn as ditzy, knee-booted lounge singer Nonnie and Steve Kimbrough as Shelley Winters’s portly, heroic Belle are gut-busting, while Derek Czaplewski gives Gene Hackman’s Reverend Scott a gleefully egotistical twist.

All of this fun, though, is somewhat hampered by the production’s split focus. Transitions between the framework of the TPA fans “watching” the movie and the parody itself are murky; a trio of soliloquies, while heartfelt, awkwardly halt the momentum; and both acts end abruptly. Although the production strains to make a metaphor of the ragtag survivors’ climb up through the sinking ship, this musical is nonetheless an enjoyable, charming disaster"

Poseidon! An Upside Musical - Albert Williams, Chicago reader 06/25/09

"Hell in a Handbag Productions' remount of its campy 2002 hit features a 23-member cast singing and dancing to synthesized orchestral accompaniment as they parody the 1972 disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure. Written and composed by David Cerda (with contributions from Scott Lamberty, Cheryl Snodgrass, and Taylor E. Ross), the show is a hodgepodge of clever sight gags, labored sex jokes (with lots of oh-so-obvious gay innuendo), on-target caricatures, passable song spoofs, and surprisingly serious monologues addressing the film's Dantesque subtext and its lasting impact on its devotees. Under the guidance of director Matthew Gunnels and musical director Kory Danielson, Poseidon! is both a send-up of the movie and a salute to its survive-at-any-cost spirit".

David Cerda

Matthew Gunnels


Shaun Nathan Baer
David Besky
David Cerda
Marie Clawson
Derek Czaplewski
Sherman Edwards
Annie Gloyn
Jason Grimm
Michael Hampton
Dan Hickey
Ed Jones
Megan Keach
Steve Kimbrough
Elizabeth Lesinski
Alison Lind
David Lipschutz
Michael S. Miller
Adrienne Smith
Trista Smith
Michelle McKenzie-Voight
Scott Sawa
Andrew Swan
Doug Vickers

Choreography – Brigitte Ditmars, Vocal Direction – Kory Danielson, Scenic Design – Matthew Buettner, Light Design – Seth Reinick, Costume Design – John Nasca, Wig & Make-up Design – Robert Hilliard, Sound Design – Christopher Kriz, Production Stage Manager – Lee Strausberg, Props – Carol Hamre, Fight Choreography – Zev Seinberg, Animation – Talon Bunn, Graphic Design – Michael S. Miller, Photography – Rick Aguilar, Costume Assistants – Tiffany Nasca & Christine Rivera, Costume Construction – Ann Wasserman, Usher Coordinator/Wardrobe Assistant – Patricia Austin, Box Office Managers – Aaron Smith & Patricia Austin.

Tags: Theater, American, 2009