The Thespian Thoughts blog posts are meant to be a college student’s point of view on various topics in the world of theater to educate all on what encompasses this particular area of the arts.
While the lights of Broadway are bright and flashy, it is important to remember that there are talented and creative people all over the world creating quality theater of their very own. One such theater company is the Chicago-based internet-famous Team Starkid who just celebrated their first production’s golden birthday last Monday.
Team Starkid was formed by students at the University of Michigan in 2009 when their first show A Very Potter Musical (a fan-made Harry Potter parody) premiered on YouTube and immediately went viral. Since then, Starkid has produced ten full length musicals in total including their most recent show Firebringer. All of them have been filmed professionally in HD and uploaded to Youtube after the production closes. The StarKid YouTube channel currently has 469,873 subscribers. By using the internet like this, they are making their theatrical creations accessible to everyone.
Their material largely features parodies of cult nerd-classics like Batman and Star Wars, but also adult-humor originals like Me and My Dick. Co-owner Brian Holden told Forbes magazine that when it comes the success of their parody shows it is because the team themselves are “big fans of these things (theater, Harry Potter, Batman, etc.), and we tap into what the fans really love about them as well, that’s the thing about fans – they’re fanatical – so they’ll pursue the things they like to the ends of the earth”. By tapping into this great love fans have for different franchises and putting their shows on Youtube for free, Starkid is able to create easily accessible high quality living fan art that both praises and mocks the characters and situations the public is familiar with and creates an entirely new way of enjoying what they have already come to love along with a universal message such as friendship, love or family. Their original shows also connect to elements of the human experience that everyone can relate to including what means to be human (Starship), adolescent sexual awkwardness (Me and My Dick) and man’s humble beginnings (Firebringer).
One of my personal favorite productions they have done is their Disney parody musical Twisted. It is a retelling of Disney’s Aladdin in the style of Wicked the musical in which the audience is retold the story through the point of view of the main villain of the original work (Jafar in this case) who is then revealed to be the true hero. It also plays upon other classic Disney tropes such as getting married to someone you just met and that just wishing for something hard enough making your dreams come true. They also go to a meta level by addressing the Pixar-Disney split and the accusations of subliminal messaging in their films. Twisted takes on Disney as a brand reminding the audience of what they love about it but still putting in humorous twists and pointing out obvious but unsaid oddities in the source material.
If you were unfamiliar with Starkid before this blog post, I highly suggest you look them up as well as The Tin Can Brothers, a newer theater company formed by long time Team Starkid members. Their content has something for everyone so happy watching! You’re in for a totally awesome time!
For me personally as a college student looking to work in the arts, Team Starkid’s success gives me hope for my own future. The fact that a bunch of plucky twenty-somethings turned their passions into living breathing theater for fun at school and then turned that into a professional company adored by so many fans years later, inspires me to believe that maybe one day, I can be part of something like that of my very own.