Web sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Live Sing-Along Blog” hits the stage

A group of students directed by sophomore Philip Romano will come together this weekend to transform Joss Whedon’s Internet sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Live Sing-Along Blog” into a stage musical.

The plot revolves around an aspiring villain Dr. Horrible (sophomore Chris McLauchlin) as he painstakingly attempts to become a member of the infamous Evil League of Evil. Unfortunately, things never seem to go the way he plans. His love interest Penny (freshman Danielle Gerbosi) has been swept off her feet by his archnemesis Captain Hammer (freshman Keenan Taylor). With his world falling apart, the doctor must decide how far he will go to achieve his villainous dreams.

McLauchlin is spot on with his interpretation of the role popularized by “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris. His precise, snarky dialect and stellar vocals lead the show in the right direction. He is accompanied by his henchman Moist (sophomore Marty Rogachefsky) who gives an endearingly awkward performance of “Nobody Wants to be Moist” from “Dr. Horrible’s” DVD extra, “Commentary! The Musical.”

Taylor’s Captain Hammer also conjures many laughs with his boisterous caricature of a vulgar “hero” of the city who takes pride in his muscles. A strong and comical ensemble with confident harmonies highlighted the musical aspects of the show, adding to the authenticity of the production.

Many of the doctor’s blog scenes are projected onto the stage while he speaks into a camera of sorts, tackling one of the many challenges of translating a video blog series into a stage musical.

The original videos contain stylistic camera shots, action scenes and other special effects. With a low budget, however, this cannot be achieved onstage. Romano’s interpretation relies on intentionally campy sequences such as an actor wearing a cardboard van costume to simulate a chase scene. Fans of the original videos will be amused, but some of the scenes may be confusing to new viewers.

The “Dr. Horrible” videos were originally created during the 2007-2008 Writer’s Guild of America strike which left many television shows without writers. To fill the gap left by many popular shows, a creative team – helmed by Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly” – assembled to entertain fans with a low-budget yet professional series of videos on the Internet. “Dr. Horrible” contains many messages that actually resonated with the strike itself and it remains a unique statement of the movement.

In contrast to other Web-rooted sensations such as “A Very Potter Musical,” “Dr. Horrible” is a piece that is not manufactured for the stage. If you have never seen the videos, some of the scenes can be confusing since they do not translate as well to this medium. Romano and the cast, however, put an admirable amount of passion into this production to make it work. “Dr. Horrible’s Live Sing-Along Blog” will be performed March 2-3 at 8 p.m. and March 4 at 2 and 5 p.m. in Sturges Auditorium. Admission is free of charge.