Just in time for Halloween, The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus is back at Rockwell Table & Stage. Part of producer Kate Pazakis’s hit Unauthorized Musical Parody Of (UMPO) series, Hocus Pocus is back this year after a successful run in 2016. Written by Pazakis and John Flynn and directed by Peter Allen Vogt, the 1993 cult favorite Disney film is brought to life by a talented cast with tons of laughs and memorable pop hits. Performed throughout the unique space at Rockwell Table & Stage as the audience enjoys food and cocktails, creating a lighthearted mix of dinner theater and cabaret, the UMPO musicals are a guaranteed good time for seasoned and casual theater fans alike.
I previously wrote about the show last year, and while many elements remain the same there are enough new cast members and music choices to provide an experience that is fresh and fun even if you have seen the previous iteration. Popular songs “Thriller,” “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “Sk8er Boi,” “Roar,” “The Rose,” and, of course, “I Put a Spell On You” are all back, and sung with the usual impressive chops of a Rockwell cast. In terms of new additions, the second act now begins with a fun mash-up of a bunch of Halloween-themed songs all performed in under four minutes, and there is also a memorable new duet of “Gangster’s Paradise” and “Lady Marmalade.” Many jokes were also updated to reflect current events (there was a nod to throwing paper towels), and running gags such as the character of Allison existing only for exposition, Thackery Binx’s creepy relationship with his younger sister, and many nods to the original actresses who played the witches in the movie drew consistent laughter from the audience.
The show is double cast, meaning you may see different actors and actresses depending on which night you attend. One of the actresses playing Winifred Sanderson is Tony-winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, reprising the role she played last year.
I had the opportunity to chat with Winokur over email about revisiting Winifred, her recent directorial debut, and the unique Rockwell Table & Stage experience.
On Stage & Screen: Hocus Pocus is back after a successful run last year. What is it like to revisit the show, and how did last year’s experience inform the changes made for this year’s version?
Winokur: Last year was amazing! It’s so fun to get to do Hocus Pocus again. There are new songs and new actors and even a new director. It was like coming home but someone put in all new furniture!
On Stage & Screen: What’s the most fun part of performing this show in a unique space like Rockwell versus a more traditional theater venue?
Winokur: I love working at Rockwell! It’s freer. I play with the audience and take myself less seriously! In return, I have more fun and think I am better in Hocus Pocus than most normal musicals. There is no fear of failing so it’s easier to try new things and take a chance.
On Stage & Screen: You recently made your directorial debut as co-director of UMPO Bridesmaids. How was that, and is directing something you hope to do again in the future?
Winokur: I loved directing! I can’t wait to do it again! I tell everyone who will listen! I want to direct everything. I am directing a new one man show called “VOTE PRAY LOVE” with Ryan O’Connor. I want to direct every day of my life, hopefully more people will take me up on it. I loved directing the strong, powerful women of Bridesmaids. I learned so much as a director that will help me as an actress.
On Stage & Screen: Is there a movie you’d love to see get the Unauthorized Musical Parody treatment or a popular character you’d love to play?
Winokur: Oh there are so many! But I can’t tell you because I want to do them all! Kate Pazakis and I talk ideas every day. I loved working with her on Bridesmaids, she is such a talented writer and such an inspiration as a producer. She created the UMPO series and has given so many actors a great gig. LA musical theater isn’t always appreciated and the UMPO series has given us a home to sing our hearts out because we have to to breathe!
The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Hocus Pocus runs at Rockwell Table & Stage through November 4th. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm and a Sunday brunch show at 12pm. The venue requires a minimum purchase of 2 items per person. Tickets range from $29-$59 and can be purchased here. The running time is approximately two hours including one intermission. To stay up to date on future entries in the Musical Parody Of series follow @UMPOSeries on social media. You can follow Marissa Jaret Winokur @MarissaJWinokur. By popular demand, you can also still catch the Unauthorized Musical Parody of Bridesmaids for certain performances through mid-November.