New all-female show scares up some laughs


Sam Bengston

Brittany Flynn (left) stars alongside Lexi Alioto, Adrienne Peters, Megan Stalter, Lily Staski and Allison Kochanski in “There’s Something About Bloody Mary,” an all-female production debuting at The Annoyance Theatre & Bar Oct. 5.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Six Chicago actresses will laugh in the face of horror in “There’s Something About Bloody Mary,” comedy troupe Huggable Riot’s first all-female revue.

The show—which will debut at The Annoyance Theatre & Bar, 851 W. Belmont Ave., on Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 2—will mix the horror genre with the female experience, according to director Amy Anderson.

Brittany Flynn, one of the actresses and writers—all of the stars contributed to the writing— said the production  plays up “the actual fears of what it is like to be a woman right now” and applies those fears to horror tropes.

Though not a common genre for live theater, horror lends itself well to a live performance, according Anderson, who is also co-founder of the Huggable Riot troupe.

“The audience is there in the room experiencing it with you,” Anderson said. “If you’re just watching a horror movie, you can only see and hear what’s happening. This way, you can be in the live experience.”

Anderson said the collection of sketches covers themes such as date rapists, vampires and poltergeist possession, adding that all the skits view the topics from a comedic female angle.

Anderson said this cast is the most passionate one she has worked with. Flynn attributed this to good chemistry among all the actresses.

“I would definitely say it’s one of the shows I’ve been most excited to put on for people,” Flynn said.

Producing “There’s Something About Bloody Mary” was a 12-week process, Anderson said, and the entire cast contributed through script workshopping for six weeks and rehearsal for the other six.

Forty-three scenes were written for the show, but only 17 made the cut, Anderson said. She added that a few more may be cut if the show runs over its one-hour time slot during dress rehearsals.

Jennifer Estlin, executive producer at The Annoyance Theater, said an all-female cast is somewhat of a risk, but one The Annoyance was willing to take with Huggable Riot.

“Any time you do a show [that is] specifically niched out for a certain group, there’s always the risk other people might think that’s not the show for them,” Estlin said. “If you have a group of guys, they might not think they want to see an all-women show.”

Estlin said The Annoyance’s brand thrives on showing diverse, open-minded productions, so its fans have come to expect shows that do not conform to usual standards in the industry. 

“We always look for people who are approaching their work with a different point of view,” Estlin said. “[Huggable Riot has] that skewed look on things where it’s not necessarily the way everybody else looks at things.”

Anderson said she does not believe “There’s Something About Bloody Mary” will alienate general audiences despite its female focus and point of view.

“We want to do [the show] in a way that relates to the female character,” Anderson said. “We don’t want it to be a female cast and treat it as a gimmick—it’s not. It’s six strong women.”