Welcome back to Fan Corner, where I highlight some of the fan fiction, art, and projects which are actually worth your while. We're going popular this week, so let's get to it.
The Starkid Musicals
What is it?
In July of 2009, a youtube channel called Starkidpotter uploaded a full-length musical (over two and a half hours long) titled "A Very Potter Musical." The show's popularity quickly exploded, getting featured all over the web, including on io9 which is where I first found out about it. The first video of A Very Potter Musical is currently sitting at over ten million hits.
This musical was later followed up by several others, including two more installments in the "Very Potter Musical" trilogy, A Very Potter Sequel, and A Very Potter Senior Year. The group's popularity has also led to them creating several other non-Potter musicals, including Holy Musical B@man! and Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, as well as Me And My Dick and Starship, but those last two aren't explicitly based on any fandom (although Starship is best described as Starship Troopers meets The Little Mermaid), so I won't focus on those here.
There's a ton to go through here. *Deep breath* A Very Potter Musical isn't based on any one specific Potter book, and instead combines elements from several of them, most notably Sorcerer's Stone, Goblet of Fire, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows.
A Very Potter Sequel, meanwhile, as actually both a sequel and a prequel as the remaining Death Eaters use the time turner to go back to Harry's first year at Hogwarts, and kill him before he can become a threat to Voldemort. It's primarily based on Prisoner of Azkaban, and Order of the Pheonix. ...It's also my least least favorite of the trilogy, and probably of Starkid's work overall, but oh well, everyone's allowed a clunker.
A Very Potter Senior Year isn't a full-on production, and was instead a dramatic reading of the script performed live at LeakyCon, due primarily to Darren Criss' increasingly busy schedule after being cast on Glee. It focuses on Harry figuring out just what it is he's going to do after Hogwarts, and is largely based on Chamber of Secrets.
*Second deep breath* Holy Musical B@man was the first production without Darren Criss' involvement writing the music, and consequently has a very different feel, with much more synthy music. It's a musical celebrating all the silliest aspects of comic books, and unashamedly in love with the most hated characters of the DCU (by people who don't actually read DCU comic books), like Robin, or Aquaman.
Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier was the group's first KickStarter project, and has much higher production values. It's an affectionate parody of all things Disney, especially focusing on Aladdin. It's inspired by Wicked, and it wears that on it's sleeve. The basic plot matches up with that of Disney's Aladdin, but shows things from a different perspective. Jafar is the misunderstood Vizier who is blamed for all the kingdom's woes, actually caused by the incompetent Sultan. Aladdin is a sociopath. That sort of thing.
The group also have three more projects announced for later this year, a cast reading of Starship: Requiem (the sequel to the aforementioned Starship) to be performed at LeakyCon, The Trail to Oregon, a musical about a kid who gets sucked into his Oregon Trail game, and Ani, which has very little information available, but which looks to be a cross between Annie (as in, Little Orphan Annie), and Star Wars.
All of Starkid's musicals are available totally free on YouTube, and each runs about ~2 ½ hours.
Why should I care?
The sheer level of talent involved in these productions. I mentioned before that Darren Criss went on to Glee (and when I had finally stopped watching, he was one of the one good things left in that show), which I understand is not a very well respected show, but Darren Criss is extremely talented. He wrote the music for AVPM, AVPS, MAMD, and Starship, and the songs in all of those are incredibly funny.
A.J. Holmes is another person involved in Starkid who's gone on to bigger and better things. He played Gilderoy Lockhart in A Very Potter Senior Year, and he's now touring with The Book of Mormon as Elder Cunningham.
Even those who haven't necessarily hit it big yet (Joey Richter has a recurring role on Disney's Jessie which will never stop being funny to me) are incredibly talented. Over the top? Absolutely. Hammy? Oh yeah. Scenery chewing to the extreme? You know it. But funny? Dear god yes.
I don't hesitate to say that, in an age where parody has really become a lost art, Team Starkid are the closest things we have to absolute masters of the form. The biggest reason for this, above all else, is that these musicals work on their own. They are incredibly funny with or without context, and having context only makes them better.
I also want to make it clear that I've been a huge fan of the group ever since AVPM, and I even went to see their live show in Austin in 2012, the Apocalyptour (which was also very funny, but which isn't available for free).
How familiar with the source material do I need to be?
I firmly believe that these work as comedies in their own right, but being familiar with the respective source material for each one will only help you get more out of it.