Kool Kat of the Week: Rob Thompson Has A Devilish Great Time Throwing A Very Krampus Xmas Spectacular at 7 Stages

The Krampus toasts PBR, his Xmas spectacular sponsor, during last Saturday's Krampus pub crawl. Photo courtesy of 7 Stages.

Rock ‘n’ roll, irreverent black humor, a Christmas demon, beer. It’s fair to say that the PBR-sponsored A VERY KRAMPUS XMAS SPECTACULAR at 7 Stages,(Thurs. Dec. 8 through Sat. Dec. 10) is not your average holiday pageant and not for everyone. But the manic and original musical production aims directly at anyone who wants an absurdist antidote to the same old carols, cuteness and tinsel gone mad and obsessive shopping. If that’s you, read on.

He’s making a list and gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. We all know the famous lyrics to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and that now you even have that pesky Elf on the Shelf watching your every move. But in the holiday tradition of Germany and other Alpine countries, being bad has bigger consequences because Santa brings the devilish Krampus along to warn and punish misbehaving kids. If you’re really bad, he may even stick you in his sack and take you back to his lair to devour you as dinner.

For the second year in a row, 7 Stages takes Santa’s dark counterpart, adds a hard rockin’ soundtrack performed by the Little 5 Points Rock Star Orchestra, and tosses in some iconic characters  and situations like an ultimate holiday office party and a quest for the Messiah; with contenders including not just Jesus but other seasonal icons such as Frosty the Snowman and Santa. You may have already got a visual sneak preview if you saw the demented Krampus Float in the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade or were out bar-hopping last Saturday when the Krampus crew did a pub crawl in costume, but for a closer look, ATLRetro caught up with one of the twisted elves behind the KRAMPUS XMAS SPECTACULAR, Rob Thompson. Rob plays the Devil himself, as well as being maestro of the Little 5 Points Rock Orchestra and proprietor of Java Lords, the pleasingly affordable bar next to 7 Stages which he has nurtured into a salon of sorts for Atlanta’s craziest artists and musicians. We also took the opportunity to find out where he’s at with a certain other monstrous production that we can’t wait to see completed at 7 Stages this spring – DRACULA: A ROCK OPERA. If you missed our review of the first act, which premiered earlier this year, catch up your reading here.

A vintage postcard depicting the Krampus punishing a naughty child.

ATLRetro: We’ve always heard that naughty kids don’t get gifts, but the Krampus isn’t just about leaving a lump of coal in your stocking, right? For the uninitiated, what is the German traditional story behind the Krampus?

Rob Thompson: Krampus is a Christmas Demon,  the antithesis of Santa Claus. He is the culture of years, and they both have their agenda. Santa pleases the good kids, while Krampus has his list as well. Krampus does the most dirty work. If you’re naughty, Krampus will whip you, put you in his sack made of pig bladder, throw you in a river at the beck and call of the elements. Possibly, he will take you to his cabin in the black forest and devour you and maybe even take you to hell! (Mwahahahhahaha!!!!)… But, it depends on how good you’ve been, little victim. Just wait and see. You should have been careful.

OK, so how do you get from a dark German counterpart to Santa to a hard rocking KRAMPUS XMAS SPECTACULAR musical play at 7 Stages?

The little 5 Points Rockstar Orchestra has experienced an evolution since we have developed this partnership with 7 stages. This show is the child of several creative people working together on and with many other players for several years. I could have never guessed that we would be where we are now.

What’s your role in this year’s production, and who are the other key demented masterminds behind this twisted holiday…dare, I say, pageant?

I am the musical director and play Satan in our cast of immortals and was a consult for the script. Andrew “Cutty” McGill and James McDougal wrote the original script, Heidi S. Howard from 7 Stages is directing with Andrew assisting, Andrew also plays Santa. We all wear a lot of hats in these productions and everyone is deeply involved in the process of creating the show.

Who’s the target audience—the same folks who prefer Dr. Seuss’s THE GRINCH and Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS? And should we bring the kids or get a sitter?

If you like rock and roll, irreverent, absurdist comedy and good ol’ entertainment, it’s a must see! Leave the kids at home!, Krampus will eat them. NOT A KID SHOW!

The Krampus float in the L5P Halloween Parade. Photo courtesy of 7 Stages.

Some folks might say, well, I saw Krampus last year and I don’t need to go again. Without giving away too much, how will this year’s show be different from last year’s?

It is a brand new play!  We will perform some of your favorites. However, we do incorporate some new songs as never before. We have pushed our boundaries farther than last year and you will be surprised!

The production certainly doesn’t shy away from being provocative and offensive. How did you decide what fit and didn’t fit, and was there anything that didn’t make it onto the stage?

It is all in the process. We spend a lot of time in the space feeling out ideas and making sure they work for the story. Our director lets us share our ideas and we decide together what works or not. There is a ton of material that didn’t make it.  New material is added nightly in rehearsal.

Red is the color of both Christmas and blood. How much of the latter can we expect in KRAMPUS, and does any of it splatter beyond the stage?

We won’t damage your clothes as much as your mind. Unlike some of our previous shows, there is not as much blood. But there are plenty of other bodily fluids! We won’t know how far the fluids splatter till show night. It is more exciting that way. There is plenty of red in surprising ways, as well as green and even some black and white.

Last year Creative Loafing called the songs  “sinister Christmas carols.” Can you talk a bit about composing the music and lyrics?

We use songs that we like. No originals for this one—we saved all those for our DRACULA: A ROCK OPERA. We do change some lyrics to fit the scene or for comedic effect. Some are Christmas songs, but all rock! This is a rock show after all!

Krampus at the Wrecking Bar during the pub crawl. Photo courtesy of 7 Stages.

Is it true that many of the masks used in this year’s production were made by children through a partnership with the Goethe Institute?

The Goethe Institute sponsored our show, and we have quite a bit of German language in the show that was developed through this process; they have been a great asset to us. We had a Krampus mask workshop for our Krampus run, which coincided with the L5P Halloween Parade.

There’s a party after the show, too. I’m guessing it’s not just another average holiday cocktail party, especially with PBR on board as a sponsor?

Yes, we have some surprises in store! There are never average parties at Java Lords/ 7Stages!

Looking ahead, the full-length DRACULA: A ROCK OPERA premieres this April. Can you give us an update on where that show is at?

We are working steady on it; it is very close to complete. We are working to complete a recording of a full-length double CD, too.

A publicity shot featuring Rob Thompson as Count Dracula for HAUS VON DRACUL, the first act of DRACULA: A ROCK OPERA, performed at 7 Stages earlier this year.

Financing a project as big as DRACULA: A ROCK OPERA must be challenging. How is fundraising going, and what can readers do to help?

It’s a bigger job than I ever imagined, and I can’t thank 7 Stages enough for the support and motivation they have given me. Your readers can become a producer! Or just donate. Call 7 stages for more information.

Are you up to anything else interesting right now, either solo or in collaboration with the Little 5 Points Rock Star Orchestra?

Well,  Krampus and Dracula are dominating our minds right now. We have plans for a CD and maybe a film as well. Other than The L5PRO, I work with Shane Morton at the Silver Scream Spookshow at the Plaza Theater. We do a show on the last Saturday of every other month, next show DEC. 31 [Rankin-Bass’s MAD MONSTER PARTY]!

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