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Best Theater Surprise 

Cannibal! The Musical

Trey Parker's Cannibal! The Musical is a two-pronged assault. Prong one, the obvious one, lampoons the classic movie-musical format (e.g., Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly! — note the proclivity for exclamation marks!). Prong two is a juvenile attack on his unfaithful college girlfriend, who shares a name with the horse of the main character, who happens to be a man-eating idiot. So it's crass and childish as well as being subtle and devious, and it skewers everyone. Suki and Brian Peters mounted an independent production of this low-budget cult classic that was a grade-A, classic example of how budget has nothing to do with talent. With a massive cast, high-quality opening and closing video credits, and some of the most relentlessly silly performances seen anywhere, Cannibal! was more than just foul-mouthed, mean-spirited fun; it was brilliant theater. That was the last thing you'd expect from a show that has as its showstopper a man singing "When I Was on Top of You" to his beloved horse — and yet damned if that wasn't a touching-slash-unsettling moment. The show's run began and ended in late 2011, but rumor has it we might get another bite at this one. You can bet we'll be checking www.cannibal-stl.com for updates.

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