Buffy the Vampire Sing-a-long, Coolidge Corner Theatre, April 14, 2007
EXORCISED: Buffy the Vampire Slayer lives.
Four girls in formal gowns are among the first to start undulating to Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Right Round” on the stage of the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s upstairs screening room. It’s nearly 2 am, Saturday April 14. They wear sparkly tiaras. I’m light-headed with jealousy. I didn’t take the time to change into appropriately festive attire, and now I’m cowering in the back row of seats with my heavy jacket on. Buffy the Vampire Slayer always patrolled graveyards in sleek leather jackets. She kicked hell beastie ass in high-heeled boots. What was I thinking, showing up to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sing-Along and Senior Prom in street clothes?
The original Buffy Sing-Along took place on October 22, 2004, organized by the Coolidge’s former program director, Clinton McClung. It sold out and has since sold out theaters in several cities; a summer national tour is now in the works. McClung knew what he was doing when he infused the exorcized spirit of The Rocky Horror Picture Show into Buffy, a dramedy that has long appealed to geeks, uncool kids, and outcasts. It’s nothing if not resilient, having endured a WB cancellation, a UPN rebirth and abandonment, and an unlikely yet magical Season 8 pen-and-ink resurrection.
The screening in the large downstairs auditorium had begun with a couple of warm-up videos including “Buffy the Abridged Version,” which is like Reduced Shakespeare except with more French kissing and carnage. Then the New York–based live Buffy cast (McClung as both host and Giles) introduced “Once More with Feeling,” the Emmy-nominated musical episode written and directed by the show’s creator, Joss Whedon. As soon as the opening lyrics flash across the screen, the theater bursts into one untrained, glorious chorus. It’s like some deleted scene from Fame, except Buffy’s chasing Spike all over the graveyard while he begs her to let him “rest in peace.” Over the course of the hour, we howl in unison for Buffy’s little sister Dawn to shut the hell up. Shining soap bubbles float above our heads during Willow and Tara’s softcore love duet, and hundreds of blue-lit cellphones sway back and forth during “Standing,” Giles’s ballad to his depressed Slayer. It’s all done with impeccable timing and coordination, as if we’d been rehearsing this every Saturday for years — or just fantasizing about it since long before Whedon decided Buffy would live on in comic-book form.
: Live Reviews
, Joss Whedon, Reduced Shakespeare Company