Musicals are a divisive subject, especially for those whose only exposure to the genre has been the film adaptation of ‘Les Misérables’ or their grandmother blasting Sarah Brightman’s version of “Memory” from ‘Cats’. That said, you cynical happiness haters, open your mind, drive the two and a half hours to Rif’s Freezer Hostel, sit your ass down on a stool, and go see the hostel’s production of ‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth: The Musical’.
I don’t like writing universally positive reviews—it feels a bit like a marketing campaign—but this show is, without hyperbole, incredible, hysterical, well thought-out and, seriously, better than ‘Hamilton’.1
The carnivalesque extravaganza presents Jules Verne’s familiar story of German professor Otto Lidenbrock’s pilgrimage to Snæfellsjökull, where he begins his fantastic voyage. As the Freezer Hostel is only a twenty-minute drive from the famed hole, the show is pertinent, in the way that it would be if a small hotel in Bali mounted a production of ‘Eat, Pray, Love: The Opera’.
Starring Kári Viðarsson as Otto, Smári Gunnarsson as Axel, his student, Stephanie Lewis in a variety of different roles, and a chorus of local children and pre-teens, the production is beautifully tongue-in-cheek. Musicals are ridiculous, but ‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth: The Musical’ amps that to the nth degree. Musicals are expensive, but this production delights in its low budget with a campy-cheap style that utilizes every object smartly and frugally.
To be honest, the performance is hard to write about. The gags and surprises are so shrewd that I don’t want to spoil them. All I’ll say is that it includes a foam insulation model of Himmelbjerget (the “tallest” mountain in Denmark), a bouncy castle, a hilariously offensive Icelandic impression by Lewis, and a finale where you as the audience wake up on stage awkwardly staring at the actors on the ground. Yes, while the first act sticks strictly to Verne’s story, the actors clearly pop some acid before the second. As the show journeys from representational to presentational, you might think you’re watching the breakdown of a cast. But trust me, it’s just good acting.
The beauty of the show really is the cast. They were so adept at both improvisation and classical theatre that—even when some overly amused audience members jumped on stage to join them—the actors played it off so perfectly that there was no doubt in my mind those disrespectful theatregoers were planted. But they weren’t, just rude kids with really incredible timing. Shoutout to them, by the way.
Yes, ‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth: The Musical’ is something you should experience, tourist or local, musical lover or Debbie downer. You won’t be disappointed and,e again, it’s only a couple hours’ drive away, so you really have no excuse.
‘Journey To The Center Of The Earth: The Musical’ plays every Thursday and Sunday at 20:00 on the dot at The Freezer Hostel.