A Little Bit of Evil in All of Us – Dr. Horrible on Stage

From the internet to the stage, Indiana University students are bringing Dr. Horrible's charming brand of evil to the John Waldron Arts Center.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog made the rounds on the internet in 2008, and it was an instant cult hit. It’s since been released on DVD, and it recently won an Emmy. Now, the Dr. Horrible story will be told on stage in Bloomington, Indiana with a cast made up of students from across the IU community.

It is a musical that tells the story of Billy and his alter ego Dr. Horrible. There’s a girl (Penny) and an arch nemesis (Captain Hammer) and a surprise ending. It was written by Joss Whedon (of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer) along with other members of the Whedon family during the writers’ strike of 2007.

Screenwriter, director, and IU Informatics student Josh Cohen is the evil mastermind behind this production. Like so many online fans, he was initially charmed by the music and clever story. His passion for screenwriting led him to explore ways to adapt the story to the stage. “When I was watching it, I wasn’t sure if I was watching some sort of staged theater that was just recorded or if I was watching a movie.”

After two months of writing, Cohen submitted his script to the Whedons for approval. While hundreds of authors like Cohen have submitted staged versions, Cohen said, “We are one of the very few licensed adaptations.”

Students from around the Indiana University Bloomington campus came out in droves to audition for parts in Dr. Horrible. “I was expecting theater students and the people who typically audition for musicals at IU,” Cohen said, but the interest was far more widespread. In fact, the actor cast as Dr. Horrible, Kevin Philips, is a freshman majoring in accounting.

Cohen speculated that the appeal of Dr. Horrible comes from our desire to be just a little bit bad. “It’s a story about the little bit of evil we all have inside of us. You can indulge that desire for an evening at our show.”

You can explore your evil side at the Bloomington production of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog at the John Waldron Arts Center October 9-10 and 13-15. Cohen added that a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to charities in the Bloomington area. You can find out more by sending an e-mail to drhorriblebtown@gmail.com.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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