Dead ringers: Sci-fi rock opera sets celebrity lookalikes against a brain-eating jukebox

Bloody Brains in a Juke Box 1
The last sword: Celebrity lookalikes face off against a brain-eating Wurlitzer jukebox in the new rock opera “Bloody Brains in a Juke Box.”
Photo by Tatiana Ilina

Rage against the machine!

A Coney Island theater troupe will bring a sci-fi satire rock opera about vintage celebrity lookalikes battling a brain-devouring Wurlitzer jukebox to the People’s Playground. “Bloody Brains in a Juke Box,” which opens on March 6 for a month-long run at Coney Island USA, is a comedy reminiscent of cult movie musicals of the 1970s and 1980s, according to the show’s writer.

“It’s something like ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ or ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ ” said Dick Zigun, the head of the Funhouse Philosophers company and the unofficial mayor of Coney Island.

The experimental theater piece uses songs — accompanied by a live rock and roll band — to tell the story of mid-century Hollywood stars Sidney Poitier, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Coogan, and Jayne Mansfield, in an alternate universe filled with echoes of their lives and the characters they played. The story spans 150 years, starting in the 1950s with all of the characters as doctors, and ends in 2099, at the end of the world.

The characters face off against a jukebox that comes to life, flies around, dances, sings, and eventually consumes their brains, in a story that is only for those over 18, according to Zigun.

“It’s very weird, very macabre, funny as s—, there’s a lot of bad language, simulated brain juice, brain matter splatter,” he said.

Getting ahead: There will be plenty of gore and blood. Photo by Tatiana Ilina

All of the characters die by the end of the second act; the third act is set in 2099, when aliens discover the machine, which has become an international celebrity.

Zigun issued a call for film star lookalikes back in October, and saw more than 100 applicants before finding his actors. Nightlife figure Satine S’Allumer will portray Jayne Mansfield “outrageously in drag,” according to Zigun, while burlesque performer Reina Terror plays Audrey Hepburn, character actor Peter Sullivan plays Coogan, and up-and-coming dancer and singer Aaron McMillan plays Poitier.

“We were looking for young talent,” Zigun said.

The sentient jukebox is voiced by puppeteer Sam Wilson, who must also maneuver the full-sized device across a stage strewn with bloody props. The production is the 40-year-old theater group’s most ambitious — and most expensive — yet, according to Zigun.

“We put about $20,000 into getting this show created,” he said. 

“Bloody Brains in a Jukebox,” at Coney Island USA [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372–5159, www.coneyisland.com]. March 6–29, Fri–Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 3 pm. $12–$30.