Cannibal! The Musical heads for the West End

Mamma Mia it is not. The latest musical heading for the British stage is the tale of a gold prospector who eats his companions after they hit a spot of bad weather.

Cannibal! The Musical, based on a film by Trey Parker, a creator of the cartoon series South Park, will debut in the West End in July at the Leicester Square Theatre.

It tells the story of prospector and former Union Army soldier Alferd Packer, who, stranded among the snow-covered Rocky Mountains on an expedition in the aftermath of the American Civil War, is said to have eaten his five colleagues after the group ran into trouble.

There is unlikely to be a treacly ending. Packer had claimed that one of his companions, Shannon Wilson Bell, killed the other four and that he only killed Bell in self-defence, but he was convicted of manslaughter.

Despite its gruesome subject matter, the show’s producer Frazer Brown said he hoped it would not attract too much controversy. “Its heart is in the right place,” he said. “As with most Parker works, it has a message.”

Brown added that the production team is still casting for the play and plan to employ British actors in the leading roles. “We are speaking to some fairly big names at the moment, we really want some crossover comedy actors, people who have experience on the stage and a personality to bring to the production,” he said.

He added that he thought the play would fare better in smaller venues, expressing his hope that it would garner a reputation as a “good night out” and gather a cult following, mirroring the success of The Rocky Horror Show. “We think it will become a guilty secret for people during its run in London, rather than a multi-million-pound production,” he said. “We hope to be able to take it to some of the smaller broadway theatres too.” The show will run in the London theatre’s Basement for seven weeks.

The original film was written and directed by Parker as a three-minute sequence for his film class while he was a student at the University of Colorado in 1993. The trailer, later made into a feature at a cost of £65,000, starred Parker and South Park co-creator Matt Stone.

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