We all know Robocop as everyone's favorite cyborg crimefighter, but he's also a comedian's dream: the perfect straight man -- well, the perfect straight man-machine hybrid.
Last year, the Ferndale comedy troupe Go Comedy! put together a musical spoof of the classic Detroit-based sci-fi flick about a monotoned, born-again cyborg cop and performed it to sold out audiences. This year, they're bringing the production back, with several tweaks and -- if Kickstarter provides -- souped-up backing music and an official soundtrack.
"Robocop! The Musical" manages to go above and beyond the original 1987 movie's dystopian hyperbole: a cop killed in the line of duty brought back to life by a privatized police force owned by the mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products in a crime-ridden, near-future Detroit.
"Its all the same premise of the story," said producer PJ Jacokes. "But we did take these ideas and blow them out of proportion."
Those who venture out to this year's production can expect a visit from caricatured Gov. Rick Snyder, who Jacokes said is a perfect stand-in for OCP vice president Dick Jones, as well as newly added references to Occupy Detroit.
To fund its dystopian chorus line and up the musical's production values, Go Comedy! is teaming up with Groovebox Studios (GBS), a local music production company that finances video and audio recording sessions via Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced funding tool.
Jacokes approached Groovebox about the project last fall -- only to find that video producer Shawn Neal was already interested in the project.
Neal said last year's rudimentary sound production values were part of the musical's original charm, but he's excited to help take the "Robocop!' soundtrack to the next level.
"We thought it was a really cool way to stretch the boundaries of our model with GBS to see if it applies to theater," he said. "It's a really cool way to blend the resources of Go Comedy! and us making the new live tracks to the show."
To record the soundtrack and backing music, Groovebox will draw on talent from the studio's expansive musical network, including Neal himself banging on the drums.
But whether the musicians record or not depends on successfully raising revenue on Kickstarter and its all-or-nothing crowdsourcing platform. To sweeten the pot, Groovebox and Go Comedy! are offering donors a variety of incentives, including copies of the soundtrack, a personalized video message from Robocop and tickets to the musical's second season, which starts May 31.
If the new season is a success, Go Comedy! may take the show on the road or option the performance -- complete with a recorded sound package -- to other comedy troupes around the country.
"The story's about Detroit, about hope, and people need that and like that," said Jacokes. "I think it struck a chord -- pun not at all intended -- with our audience."
The Kickstarter drive for the new soundtrack ends April 6. The new season of Robocop! The Musical begins May 31 and runs through August 11 on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. Go Comedy! is located at 261 East 9 Mile in Ferndale.
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