When the evening began with a clown dragging a shackled nun to the stage it soon became evident that Alice Cooper was not being covered – he was being embodied. Retro Production’s Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper is a wickedly diverse two-act show spanning across the greatest hits of this 70’s icon. Expect costume changes, theatrics, props, and of course, legendary rock songs such as ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’, ‘Department of Youth’, ‘School’s Out’, and more.
Dave Hudson shines on vocals, proving to be competent in handling the bellowing lows and threatening highs of each song. His stage presence is immense as he adopts the mannerisms of Cooper, almost making it seem as if the music has completely taken over him. He orchestrates his band much like a conductor at times (but if a conductor ruled with a long shiny sword rather than a baton). He plays around with the band, weaving in and out as if he is wildly encapsulated by the sounds being produced.
The band themselves are a true highlight of the performance, plenty of skills are on display from their guitarists, Chris Anthony & Richard Poray who both ooze of style and passion as they play. Steve Smith is thunderous on the drums (and notably adorns a Guy Fawkes mask during the second act), and Jason Anderson blasts the bass with ease as Ashley Miller provides the final touches on keyboards. The all-singing and all-screaming back-up vocals accompany the band with a well-balanced stage presence. Collectively the band covers Cooper’s classics with relentless energy and stamina often leaving you thinking “wait, they aren’t going to take a breather after that?”
Theatrics also play a huge role in this performance. While the specifics won’t be detailed, it has to be mentioned that there are live-snakes and a guillotine. They bode well as extensions of the music and provide many crowd-pleasing moments as a result.
Between the two acts, the first is noticeably stronger theatrically. While the second act certainly has its abundance of musical successes, the theatrics seem to become somewhat repetitive at points and drag for just a little too long. One particular moment involving a spider verges on becoming a little awkward.
That being said, these minor issues do not overshadow the successes of the experience. It is needless to say that Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper is a fitting ode to its subject. Just try not to get too freaked out by the abundance of baby dolls littered across the stage!
4/ 5 stars
Words by Isaac Freeman
Welcome to the Nightmare – A tribute to Alice Cooper plays again on February 21 at the Clovercrest Hotel and on February 27 at the Marion Cultural Centre.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.