"From the time the film opened I saw stage potential, and particularly musical, I think, because of the larger-than-life absurdity of it," said Blamire. "It just seemed a natural 'rethinking' to me. And, over the years, there have actually been quite a few requests for same from fans. It finally seemed the right time for me to get to it."
The plot involves a scientist, a haunted skeleton, two space aliens, a woman created from four different animals, and a rampaging escaped monster, all of whom take part in a search for the mysterious element "atmosphereum."
The film boasted deliberately off-kilter dialog, dime-store special effects, awful makeup, dubious pseudo-scientific explanations, washed-out black-and-white cinematography, and a sexy dance by a lady in a cat suit (played by Blamire's wife, Jennifer Blaire).
Imagine a film intentionally designed to be lampooned on "Mystery Science Theatre 3000," and you've got the idea.
Here is the trailer for the original film:
Blamire's film oeuvre includes "Trail of the Screaming Forehead," "Dark and Stormy Night" and the sequel "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again."
Playbill.com conducted a Q&A with Blamire about the project:
Playbill.com: What about the story "sang" to you?
Blamire: The dialogue itself was a major factor, I think, because there was a certain rhythm to it, based on a stilted, low budget sci-fi movie style that just translated so smoothly to songs. Plus, I think, as silly as it is, an almost operatic majesty to the Skeleton and his need for life, and Roger's ambition—perhaps all the characters' longings—it made the songs come relatively easy, and I wanted to play them all "straight," as the movie plays it straight.
Playbill.com: The film has two dance sequences, Animala’s and Lattis/Krobar's ("Dance of the Aliens"). How did you work in other dances and songs?
Blamire: Once I started to forget about cinematic storytelling and get back to my stage roots in my thinking, other dance numbers erupted, particularly enhanced by the addition of the "Skeleton Dancers" and an increased theatricality where characters are sharing stage at times they never did in the movie. The opening itself needed an introductory dance number, and I felt the lure of atmosphereum (the radioactive rock everyone's after) lent itself to something wild and hypnotic. I also want the book to be wide open to the director's eventual interpretation, so there may be other dance numbers popping up that I never dreamed of. My stage directions merely suggest.
Playbill.com: Will it be in the parody/homage style of Little Shop of Horrors or The Toxic Avenger?
Blamire: I would like Lost Skeleton to be somewhat of its own animal—there are similarities, but I would almost like the approach to be more serious. To me, the more serious it is presented, the more dire everything is, the funnier.
Playbill.com: Will it be done in black and white? (Not as silly a question as it may seem; Tony winner City of Angels was done half in B&W to suggest noir films.)
Blamire: You know, that's a really wonderful idea. I would be down with that. I want to see a director come in with strong visual ideas that can have fun with the low-budget spoof. There's a lot of room for invention in the development stage.
Playbill.com: Any plans for a production, a showcase or just a reading?
Blamire: Right now, none. This is at the point of me getting this material into the right hands, and then leading to any and all of the above.
Playbill.com: Have you ever written a score before (or even songs)?
Blamire: I have written songs—lyrics and music—starting with some rock songs way back when for some buddies of mine in a band. In film, I wrote quite a few songs for my film "Johnny Slade's Greatest Hits" (a.k.a. "Meet the Mobsters"), and in a number of styles. And I also wrote the title song for my film "Trail of the Screaming Forehead," sung by Manhattan Transfer, and beautifully orchestrated by Christopher Caliendo. Had to join ASCAP as a result. I am not exactly sure how or why melodies come to me, but they do, and always have. Crazy. Music drives a lot of what I do.
Playbill.com: What musicals influenced you?
Blamire: I honestly cannot say that any did specifically, and I kind of stayed away from listening to any scores beforehand deliberately, so I could go in somewhat fresh and open to any style. I wanted the piece itself to speak, which, thank God it did. But I have to say, I did recall a wonderful production of Jackie: An American Life in Boston that employed mixed media to great effect. Would love to see some of that inventiveness here.
Playbill.com: I know you have a theatre background in Boston. Did you ever do musicals there?
Blamire: Only once, and not as a writer or director but as an actor. I played Pedro the head muleteer in Man of La Mancha; sang "Little Bird," used a whip and committed rape. The sum total of my singing-onstage experience.
Playbill.com: What’s the status of the third "Skeleton" film?
Blamire: Honestly, my feeling is that the success of a Lost Skeleton musical could get "LS3" funded. I believe it needs that kind of public attention. The script for the third (and final) film is a bit bigger in scope—I didn't want to simply repeat "1" or "2."
Playbill.com: Describe how the musical will be different from the film, apart from all the songs. Are you trying to achieve the same tone or go for something different?
Blamire: I would say that it's very much the same tone, but an amplified version, open to a visual translation of its grade-Z movie elements for stage; like, for instance, the Skeleton himself being a cutout, a puppet, a live person—that sort of thing. But the piece is very true to the original characters and story.
Playbill.com: Will you be playing Paul Armstrong yourself, as you did in the film?
Blamire: Dear God, I hope not. This needs someone with real pipes — not to mention name value — the modern equivalent of Harve Presnell or something (can't think who that is offhand). And, really, can we just get Kristin Chenoweth as Lattis? Maybe Betty? That's all I ask.
Here are demo audio clips from the show:
"Hated by Skeletons"
"Legend of Lost Skeleton"
Music and lyrics copyright 2015 Larry Blamire. Used by permission.