Merry mayhem in ‘Hot Greeks’ 

click to enlarge History gone wild: Scrumbly Koldewyn, above left, and Russell Blackwood appear in the Thrillpeddlers’ production of “Hot Greeks.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • History gone wild: Scrumbly Koldewyn, above left, and Russell Blackwood appear in the Thrillpeddlers’ production of “Hot Greeks.”

Middle age looks just fine on “Hot Greeks.” The outlandish musical brought to life by the gender-bending — and oh-so-fun — Cockettes decades ago celebrates its 40th anniversary in The City with an inventive Thrillpeddlers production at the Hypnodrome.

“It’s one of two original shows, ‘Pearls Over Shanghai’ being the other, that the Cockettes did,” says director Russell Blackwood. “It’s a purely original piece that doesn’t call on a lot of copyrighted material from old movies.”

Originally produced and performed in 1972 at the Palace Theatre in North Beach, this new incarnation is loaded with the things that made the show a frothy hit back in the day.

Scantily clad Greeks prance around again in this production, which has been restored to its full-length luster after a trimmed version was presented in a shorter run several years ago.

Three original songs are back in the mix; Blackwood says everybody in the cast has their “moment in the sun.”

Those familiar with Thrillpeddlers’ distinctly original theatrical vibe know the troupe’s high-octane energy is downright infectious. The presence of original Cockette and composer Scrumbly Koldewyn, who serves as musical director and plays piano for all performances, suggests that the current gang — including some relative newcomers — is in fine hands.

Beyond that, the show boasts plenty of eye-candy — a vestal virgin here, a country cousin there — and the premise is a real kick.

Loosely based on Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata,” Blackwood says it is set some time between “antiquity and the 1940s.” The Athens University football team and its robust cheerleaders prep for a big game against Sparta State.

Meanwhile, there is singing and dancing among the ruins of ancient Greece as peace-seeking Lysistrata hopes to save the gods — and Greece — from “combat.”

“It has so many facets of two different genres, that not only come to together but manage to bounce off of each other in a very fun way,” Blackwood says. “It’s an opportunity for us as artists to pick from very rich territory.”

Equally rich creatively is the Thrillpeddlers’ lair, the Hypnodrome. Everything from its intimate performance space to quirky “shockbox” seats help the actors “really approach performing with gusto.”

“I mean, very little of what we have in this space was bought in a store,” Blackwood adds. “It’s all been repurposed material in some way and made better for today.”

Just like “Hot Greeks” itself.

If you go

Hot Greeks: The Cockettes Musical

Where: The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St., S.F.

When:
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; closes May 5

Tickets: $30 to $35

Contact: (800) 838-3006

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Greg Archer

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