Follow TV Tropes


Theatre / The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals

Go To

"I feel like there's something sinister infecting Hatchetfield. And I know this is gonna sound crazy, and not very scary, but it is scary, if you think about the implications: I think the world is becoming a musical."

The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals is a horror-comedy musical from Team Starkid. The eleventh in their long-running oeuvre of live shows, and the first since Starkid's relocation from Chicago to LA. The show premiered Oct. 11, 2018 at the Matrix Theatre and ran for four weekends, and was released on YouTube December 24, 2018.

Everything in Hatchetfield seemed normal until people began singing... Then, they began dancing... And now, a musical pandemic is sweeping the entire city. It's up to Paul—an average guy who doesn’t like musicals—and his friends to stop this musical apocalypse and fight for humanity's future.

The show stars Starkid newcomer Jon Matteson as Paul, along with fellow first-timer Mariah Rose Faith as Zoey, and Starkid regulars Jaime Lyn Beatty (Charlotte), Jeff Blim (Sam), Corey Dorris (Bill), Lauren Lopez (Emma), Robert Manion (Prof. Hidgens), and Joey Richter (Ted). As with all Starkid musicals thus far, the musical was written by the Lang Brothers Matt and Nick, with Nick acting as director and producer. Jeff Blim co-wrote this show and composed the music, as with The Trail to Oregon!.


A Spiritual Successor to this show, Black Friday, opened in October 2019, officially making this show the beginning of the "Hatchetfield series", with a third entry in the series, Nerdy Prudes Must Die, to come. As a Kickstarter stretch goal for Black Friday, Starkid also announced the production of a Spin-Off short film of The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals, Workin' Boys (a Defictionalization of the Show Within a Show proposed by Breakout Character Professor Hidgens), although it's been indefinitely delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.


The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals contains the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor
    • Several Starkid regulars were unavailable for this show thanks to not following Matt and Nick Lang when they relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, such as Brian Holden and Meredith Stepien.
    • Hilariously, for one performance where Lauren Lopez was unavailable, Nick Lang filled in as Emma.
    • This is, notably, the only Starkid stage show Joe Walker hasn't appeared in other than The Trail to Oregon! (which was running in repertory with Ani, which he was in). According to Nick Lang, Joe Walker actually quit acting to go back to school and earn his MBA in response to the election of Donald Trump (hence the song "America Is Great Again".)
  • Accidental Misnaming: Despite having been a regular at her coffee shop, Ted can't seem to keep Emma's name straight, even during his shortlived Heel Realization. Comes back as a joke in the ending with Col. Schaeffer insistently calling Emma by her Witness Protection name "Kelly", despite Emma's distaste for it.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Ted's reaction to the idea of Workin' Boys.
  • All for Nothing: The Hive Mind seems to love going to great lengths to arrange this for unconverted humans in order to break them. Bill and Paul's quest to save Alice? She was converted before they even left. The race between Ted, Paul and Emma for the rescue helicopter? The zombies had already intercepted it and put Zoey there because they knew Emma would make it. Paul's final desperate struggle to destroy the meteor before being assimilated? Destroying the meteor doesn't work in the first place.
  • All There in the Manual: The original script for the show, made available to Kickstarter backers, reveals a few tidbits like the full names of the TV news anchors Dan and Donna (Dan Greene and Donna Burshaw), as well as that the male Smoke Club member played by Joey Richter is named "Danny". This has led to some Wild Mass Guessing over whether Danny is Dan's son, or Dan is related to Ethan Green(e) from Black Friday.
  • Almost Kiss: Played for comedy. Emma has been severely injured in the helicopter crash, and only Paul can go to the Starlight Theater to destroy the meteor and save the world. Knowing it could be the last time they see one another, Emma and Paul lean in for a kiss...only for Emma to regurgitate blood right in Paul's face. Emma wants to try again, but Paul just isn't into it anymore.
  • And I Must Scream: It's unknown whether the assimilated humans retain their consciousness though Charlotte's line "Your own body is your front row seat!" might imply this.
    • Alice's "Why does it hurt to love you?" solo in "Not Your Seed" also implies this, which only adds to the Fridge Horror of an already painful scene.
  • And Zoidberg: When Paul shows up at the meteor crash site in "Let It Out", Paul is confronted by the resurrected corpses of his best friend, Bill, his old frenemy, Ted, his boss, Mr. Davidson, and... Nora, whom he's never had a conversation with. Possibly because it was established that Charlotte, Jaime Lyn Beatty's character who actually was his friend, has been dissected by Professor Hidgens. Lampshaded by Professor Hidgens.
    Paul: Ted!... Emma's boss!
    Professor Hidgens: That's right, Paul, all your best friends are here!
  • Arc Words: The Assimilation Plot is referred to by its victims as "apotheosis".
    • Also the Greenpeace canvasser's question to Paul, "Do you want to save the planet?"
    • And Ted's random remark to Bill that becomes Emma and Paul's plan to take down the Hive Mind: "Take out the head and the whole thing comes down."
  • Assimilation Plot: Everyone in Hatchetfield is slowly being transformed into a character from a musical.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The meteor's arrival is heralded by a torrential downpour that becomes a thunderstorm, which was apparently predicted by Hidgens' theory. Artistic License – Astronomy, obviously, since earthly weather isn't affected by incoming objects from space normally — which possibly indicates this meteor isn't following the usual laws of nature.
  • Audience Participation: Some audience members actually did hand their phones to Emma during the curtain call, although Lauren Lopez says they never unlocked them first, letting her react with realistic frustration.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Professor Hidgens comes to the conclusion that letting the aliens to assimilate us is the only way to achieve world peace
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • The assimilated humans' blood and internal organs turn into a brightly-colored gelatinous substance that the survivors dub "blue shit", giving them a decentralized anatomy that can function even if they lose their hearts or brains.
    • Hidgens shows up later in the musical looking normal after having his guts torn out, so it seems the assimilated humans can heal themselves if given enough time.
    • Hidgens discovers that the aliens apparently contain an organ many times more sensitive to sound than the human ear, allowing them to hear music from miles away and maintain the Hive Mind through ultrasonic communication.
    • It appears individual members of the Hive Mind can have their thoughts get out of sync with each other, and recalibrate themselves by literally matching pitch.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Than past Starkid shows, mainly achieved by having people wear charmingly fake "entrails" under their clothes for being "disemboweled", and the strategic use of blood capsules in the actors' mouths for Coughing Up Blood.
  • Book-Ends: The Opening Chorus and ending Reprise Medley both have the leader of the chorus utter the Arc Words "The apotheosis is upon us!" while creepily lit from below (and in Extreme Close-Up in the filmed version). The first time, the words are cheered by a creepy unseen audience of children; the second time, we cheer because it's the end of the show. The first time, the character in question is Paul's boss, played by Jeff Blim, the writer of the show. The second time, it's Paul himself.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The basic concept of this show revolves around fourth wall breaking, even more than normal for Team Starkid. All of the songs are meta to some degree, Emma and Ted randomly decide to take the stool and keyboard with them when fleeing Prof. Hidgens' house in order to clear the stage, and then there's the You Bastard! ending. I guess we refuse to help Emma because we all see her world as a musical too, because we're also infected.
    • The climactic scene that leads to the song "Let It Out" is a very literal fourth wall breaking, since it takes place in the Starlight Theater — Paul bursts through the front door of the actual theater, from behind the audience, to find the meteorite sitting onstage exactly as earlier described. It's implied this scene plays out almost completely diegetically, looking in-universe exactly as it does in the show, complete with the Hatchetfield Bee following him down the aisle to the stage to cut off his escape. The only difference is that in-universe there was no audience in the seats... or was there?
  • Brick Joke: Earlier in the play Bill makes a Lame Comeback at Ted, threatening to "Kick his head" which Ted mocks. Later when both are assimilated and meet Paul, Ted jokes that Bill might kick his head.
  • Buffy Speak: Probably what Buffy Speak would be if Buffy had a PG-13 rating.
    Prof. Hitchens: Now, tell me, Emma! What on earth does that look like to you?
    Emma: Oh, God. I dunno. Some kinda blue... shiiiiit?
  • Call-Back: The spoken word section of the Opening Chorus comes back as the song "Let Him Come" just before the climax — before, Paul failed to show when the chorus announced his "headlining entrance", but now he's finally obliging them.
  • Call-Forward
    • A single musical phrase from "Not Your Seed" ("Alien invading minds") serves as Alice's Leitmotif when Bill is on the phone with her in Act 1.
    • In the official soundtrack, the "Aliens invading minds" riff plays before the Opening Chorus and sets the tone for the whole show.
    • In a particularly Fridge Horror inducing example, there's a Lonely Piano Piece that plays in Paul's introspective moments and serves as his Leitmotif... that eventually turns out to be the opening bars of "Inevitable".
    • Similarly, we're initially introduced to "America Is Great Again" as Gen. Mc Namara and PEIP's Leitmotif before he gets assimilated and the badass tune suddenly gets horrifying lyrics.
  • Closed Circle: The government closes off the bridge to the mainland at one point.
  • Coconut Superpowers
    • Played for Laughs. Right after a dramatic scene with realistic gunshot sound effects, The Cavalry arrives in the form of Joey Richter simulating a military raid against the zombies by running around shouting "We're the army! Bam bam bam! Grenade!"
    • Jeff Blim as the infected Gen. Mc Namara performs a Neck Lift on Paul without straining his arm or Jon Matteson's neck thanks to him being "restrained" by two other soldiers holding up his legs.
    • When Prof. Hidgens is about to be assimilated, he's "held in midair" by "Greg" and "Stu" thanks to Robert Manion holding up a fake lower body with conspicuously dangling fake legs and a conspicuously fake abdomen waiting to be torn open.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Played for Laughs. While getting ready for work Paul stops to listen to a fluffy news story about "Peanuts the Pocket Squirrel" in its entirety, then casually turns off the radio just as they begin to start talking about the mysterious meteor strike in the middle of town. (Becomes a Brick Joke with the ending, where a similar newscast reveals that Peanuts is the sole known survivor of Hatchetfield, thanks to PEIP putting Emma in Witness Protection.)
  • Color Blind Casting: Bill, played by Corey Dorris (who is black), is the father of Alice, played by Mariah Rose Faith (who is white).
  • Comically Missing the Point: Robert Manion's sheer hamminess lets him pull off a ridiculously stale vaudeville gag.
    Prof. Hidgens: Who is it?!
    Emma: (over intercom) Professor Hidgens!
    Prof. Hidgens: Don't lie to me, whoever you are. I'm Professor Hidgens!
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong
    • Mocked, and paired with Self-Deprecation. Everyone around Paul finds his deep dislike of musicals to be a character flaw, what with Hamilton fever sweeping the nation. Emma, whose job actually requires her to sing and is surrounded by obnoxious "theatre kids", has it even worse. This turns out not to just be an annoying fad, but the early signs of a spreading apocalypse.
    • Paul's resistance to possession is foreshadowed by him not being much of a joiner in general, with no interest in the office softball league or signing up for Greenpeace.
    • Subverted again with a different complainer, Ted, who correctly predicts that Bill's daughter is already assimilated and the mission to save her will only get Bill killed.
    Opening Chorus: But for some damn reason
    He won't join our singing season
    What an ass
    What a bitch
    What a CUCK!
  • Covers Always Lie: The characters depicted in the poster image you see on this page don't really resemble the characters in the show (notably Paul has sandy blond hair, not black) but that's because it was drawn before the show was cast.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The musical plague vaguely fits the pop-culture Flanderization of musicals as taking place in a sunny, optimistic version of reality without true conflict.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Slash Creative Curtain Call, for the live audiences. The credits begin scrolling and the actors take their bows while Lauren Lopez, still in character as Emma, is screaming and struggling and begging for the audience to call for help. At least one live audience hesitated to get up from their seats when the house lights went up in case the show was still going on.
    • A more minor Credits Gag is crediting the band members as the "Hatchetfield High School Band", which spawned a little bit of Wild Mass Guessing about meta theories that the whole show is post-apotheosis.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • As with The Trail to Oregon!, the music for this show shows off Jeff Blim's love of funky guitar riffs, especially in "La Dee Dah Dah Day".
    • This show also shares with The Trail to Oregon!'s penchant for Breaking the Fourth Wall in the literal sense, with actors frequently going out or coming in through the audience, including a hilarious scene where Paul leads Emma through the "back alleys" of Hatchetfield by running through the aisles of the theater and pushing their way past people's knees.
    • It also shows Jeff has a particular taste for extremely sudden Mood Whiplash, often abusing the Lonely Piano Piece in the background music for this effect.
    • Jeff also likes giving himself solos and pushing his falsetto to the limit for comic effect.
    • This show doesn't have the same Anvilicious attacks on religion as in previous Starkid works ("God is a vicious two-faced prick") but the theme is still there. Notably, Charlotte thinks she's praying to God to save her husband's life and that God answers by miraculously resurrecting him — but it was the Hive Mind all along.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Averted — this is the first Starkid show since Little White Lie to not have any, not even for minor puppet characters. Yes, Lauren Lopez is a woman again in this one.
    • With the exception of the performance where, ironically, Lauren is replaced by Nick Lang.
  • Crowd Song: "La Dee Dah Dah Day", where the meteor first makes its presence known by possessing the city to sing in unison.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Paul blows up the meteor and Emma escapes from Hatchetfield and recovers from her injury. It looks like Paul has miraculously survived his Heroic Sacrifice only for him to start singing again.
  • Dark Reprise
    • The song "Cup Of Roasted Coffee" gets one when the Pilot of the helicopter Emma and Paul are on reveals herself to be Zoey.
    • The original "Cup of Roasted Coffee" gets the immediate Once More, with Clarity! version of this. The song ends with The Reveal that the coffee is tainted with the blue shit and the customers have been assimilated, at which point Nora and Zoey immediately launch a reprise with new lyrics, "Cup of Poisoned Coffee".
    • "Let Him Come" is a Dark Reprise of the Opening Chorus' "Paul's a-coming" chant, which becomes a lot more horrific now that we've had time to think about the implications of the musical Hive Mind and the fact that it considers Paul "the star of the show".
    • “Inevitable” contains Dark Reprises (if you’re looking at them as Paul trying to get Emma to join the hive-mind) of “What Do You Want Paul?”, “Cup of Roasted Coffee”, “You Tied Up My Heart”, “Show Me Your Hands”(which was already pretty dark to begin with), “Not Your Seed” (which was even darker to begin with), and “Show Stoppin’ Number”
  • Darker and Edgier: Than Starkid's past shows (see Horror Comedy).
  • Death by Irony: Multiple characters go out either saying or hearing ironic Last Words:
    • Trying to talk Bill down from being Driven to Suicide by Alice's assimilation, Paul shouts "I'm not gonna just let you die!" right before Alice shoots him.
    • Trying to prove his patriotism, Ted shouts out to the PEIP soldiers "I bleed red, white and —" just before they shoot him in the gut. Not only does he start coughing up evidence he bleeds red, but the soldiers assimilate him immediately afterwards, turning his blood blue.
    • A delayed example, and possibly the worst one — Emma tells Paul her one goal in life has been not to die in her hometown of Hatchetfield, and Paul jokes, "It could be worse, you could be dying in Clivesdale." Sure enough, she manages to escape Hatchetfield to the neighboring rival town of Clivesdale... where, as soon as she thinks she's safe, she's ambushed by the zombies and killed.
  • Deconstruction: This musical is one for musicals in general, with several meta songs that describe the subgenre of musical theatre they're in.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: We don't ever find out how, despite their training, the PEIP unit succumbed to assimilation, or how the zombies pulled off intercepting the rescue helicopter and replacing the pilot with Zoey of all people just to Troll Emma. It's also never explained exactly how Emma's theory was wrong and why the Hive Mind survived the meteor being destroyed, nor how exactly they subverted PEIP's cleanup crew and took over their forces on the mainland.
  • Diegetic Switch: "Showstopping Number" starts with Prof. Hidgens playing at a keyboard, only for the accompaniment to continue (and add more instruments) as he gets up to dance.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many fans argue for an interpretation where Paul's social awkwardness and lack of interest in group activities makes him neurodivergent/on the autism spectrum, hence his dislike of the exaggerated emotional self-expression in musical theatre. The Hive Mind becomes a metaphor for social conformity and the way well-meaning peers and therapists try to pressure autistic people into expressing a "true emotional self" they genuinely don't feel, sometimes violently.
  • Double Tap: McNamara mentions that PEIP's orders are to give any survivors of the zombie apocalypse "two in the head and one in the heart". Note that this is a reversal of the Real Life "Mozambique Drill" (two in the heart and one in the head), possibly because of the Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain trope. Also note that, after what we saw happen to Sam, this wouldn't have worked.
  • Double Entendre: The lyrics of "Not Your Seed" get a lot grosser when sung by the assimilated Paul in the Dark Reprise "Inevitable", becoming his desire to "plant his seed" in Emma's body.
    • A subtle one, but in "Cup of Roasted Coffee" Nora's solo asks the businessmen "Can we get a triple for you?" After Emma quits and the song "Cup of Poisoned Coffee" is just Nora and Zoey, Zoey's last line is "We got a double for you!" (because the number of women being offered to "Mr. Business" just went down).
  • Downer Ending: Paul's Heroic Sacrifice failed, he has become one of the musical zombies, the Hive Mind has successfully spread to the mainland and infiltrated the government, and the apotheosis of the human race is now, as the song says, "Inevitable". Emma is the only unconverted human left, and the rest of the cast drag her off screaming while the audience obliviously applauds and laughs.
  • Dysfunction Junction: True to a typical zombie apocalypse story, the survivors holed up at Prof. Hidgens' compound looked like they had a decent chance of surviving... if not for them all having some tragic flaw that drives them to betray each other and the human race. Lampshaded, with the various songs implying The Virus gets inside you based on what you want.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: The coffee shop patrons are doing this shamelessly in "Cup of Roasted Coffee".
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Show-Stopping Number," full-stop. Lampshaded just moments before it starts.
    Professor Hidgins: This is humanity's eleventh hour... and I've prepared something for the occasion.
  • Everytown, America: Hatchetfield. The only notable thing about the town is that it does not have much of a musical theatre culture that would explain all the singing and dancing — and that, like many horror movie settings, it's on an island that can be conveniently cut off from the mainland.
    • Word of God from Nick Lang says that Hatchetfield is located in Team Starkid's home state of Michigan. (Hatchetfield being a relatively well populated town located on an island suggests it's a fictionalized version of Grosse Ille, MI, with Clivesdale, the rival town across the bridge, a fictionalized Riverview.)
  • Evil Evolves: The assimilated start out just encouraging people to join them in singing and dancing and fleeing from violence even though they're Immune to Bullets. As Hidgens observes, they get more aggressive as their numbers grow, turning into a Zombie Apocalypse that spreads by mauling and biting people ("Join Us and Die"). Once they assimilate the PEIP unit ("America Is Great Again"), they've reached the point where they can use complex military tactics and infect a person instantly with concentrated meteor radiation. They also go from seemingly taking hours to recover from fatal wounds to seconds.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Prof. Hidgens' Motive Rant goes off on this topic.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: There's nothing particularly notable about Paul as a person other than the fact that he is, yes, a guy who doesn't like musicals. It's the rest of the world changing that makes this into a problem.
  • Extreme Close-Up: This show was in a much smaller, more intimate black-box style theater than previous Starkid productions. To maintain that atmosphere the filmed YouTube version of the show uses a lot of ECUs at dramatic moments, most notably ending the show on the malevolent face of the assimilated Paul bearing down on Emma.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Professor Hidgens voluntarily decides to join the aliens.
  • Face–Monster Turn: Being turned into a character from a musical grants you supernatural strength, reflexes and durability, as Required Secondary Powers of also becoming a virtuoso singer and dancer with unlimited stamina.
  • Flash Mob: Ted initially mistakes Paul's account of the musical plague for this. (It is probably the most logical explanation.)
  • Foreshadowing: Early on in the musical, Paul and a Greenpeace worker get into a fight about him refusing to donate. At one point, Paul scoffs at the idea that he can save the world single-handedly. This not only foreshadows that he will later try to take down the Hive Mind alone, but that he will fail to do so. He really couldn't save the world single-handedly. On the other hand, in Prof. Hidgen's opinion, the world can actually only be saved by a complete assimilation of mankind, which is reflected in the song's lyrics "Do you wanna save the planet?/Well, there's just one way you can do it/By singing a song".
    • Although the zombies are sometimes capable of speaking normally, the fact that the nurse played by Mariah Rose Faith doesn't say anything in the last scene is meant as a hint that she's infected.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending:
    • "Lah Dee Dah Dah Day" ends on one, with Paul hilariously awkwardly trapped inside the stage picture formed by all the singing performers.
    • The final moment of the show is the zombies led by Paul all bearing down on Emma who gives one final scream of despair as the lights go down. Then, in a hilarious subversion, the lights come back up so the zombies can take their bows while Emma, still in character, begs and pleads with the audience before they drag her backstage so they can tear her limb from limb properly.
  • Funny Background Event: Thanks to the small performance space, you can clearly see the band off stage left in multiple shots of the filmed YouTube version, and see them openly reacting and laughing at what's going on onstage.
    • Robert Manion provides many of these, like his character awkwardly trying to get a word in edgewise when Paul cuts in front of him at the coffee shop to talk to Emma just before "Cup of Roasted Coffee".
    • Robert Manion does an elaborate dance during "Show Me Your Hands" that you can see Ted silently appreciating, a Call-Forward to his reaction to Workin' Boys during "Showstoppin' Number''.
    • The extremely short time for a quick change between the Hatchetfield Bee outfit in "Not Your Seed" and Emma's next scene with Prof. Hidgens means that Lauren Lopez has her shirt untucked at the beginning of that scene and for the rest of the show.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The overall goal of The Virus. See Crapsaccharine World above.
    • Emphasized with the homeless man's verse of "La Dee Dah Dah Day", where he cheerfully sings about how his hilariously awful life on the streets no longer bothers him.
    Cause I may not have a home
    But that's way okay!
    Cause I prefer to roam
    The streets all day!
    The world is my house
    Hey look, a new blouse (picks up garbage bag)
    And a new TRASH CAN TOO!
  • Glory Days: Workin' Boys, full stop. The only concept in Prof. Hidgens' treatment is milking this one cliché for as much drama as humanly possible, to the point where it turns out the characters have been overwhelmed with nostalgia and Putting the Band Back Together on a weekly basis.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The alien Hive Mind is associated with blue light and "blue shit", in contrast to the Sickly Green Glow associated with Wiggly in the sequel.
  • Government Conspiracy: Gen. McNamara reveals this isn't the government's first rodeo with supernatural-seeming threats, and the PEIP unit has defeated several of them before (while murdering civilians along the way to preserve The Masquerade).
  • Gut Punch:
    • Bill's death is the first sign this musical won't have a happy ending. The moment in the ending when Paul begins singing confirms it.
    • Outdone only by the ending.
    Paul: (singing) Emma, I'm sorry... you lost...
  • Halloween Episode: One for Team Starkid, their first horror show, timed to premiere in October.
  • Hero of Another Story: Robert Manion's "Hot Chocolate Boy" was conceived by the Langs as a Seymour Krelboyne-like protagonist of a different Horror Comedy set in the "Hatchetfield universe", and they decided to have him appear in this show as an Early-Bird Cameo.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song: The Opening Chorus, "The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals", which humorously rips on Paul at length for no reason other than he doesn't like musicals.
  • High Concept: A meta Horror Comedy musical where the Zombie Apocalypse is the fact that the world is becoming a musical. Arguably even more of a high concept than Team Starkid's last such effort, the "James Cameron meets Disney" mash-up Starship.
  • Hive Mind: The result of applying Fridge Logic to the first of the Musical World Hypotheses — if fully choreographed musical numbers are actually occurring in-universe, then this can only mean that characters in musicals' individuality is an illusion and they're actually telepathically connected.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Robert Manion's minor character, the Beanie's customer who's "blood sugar is VERY low!", is an extreme one of these and a One-Scene Wonder.
  • Hollywood Science: Everything about Prof. Hidgens, obviously, but perhaps the most egregious is that confronted with an unknown substance oozing from a dead man's skull whom he's already theorized is infected by some kind of alien plague he picks it up with his bare hands. (And then asks "What the fuck is this shit?")
  • Hope Spot: When discussing the idea of the meteor being a Hive Queen with Prof. Hidgens, Emma raises the possibility that if the meteor is destroyed and the Hive Mind stops controlling the zombies their old personalities will come back, without losing their alien Healing Factor. I.e. all of the dead characters might be brought back in a Reset Button ending, a la The Faculty. Unfortunately becomes moot when PEIP torches Hatchetfield after the meteor explodes to hide the evidence. Then becomes even more moot when it turns out this was a lie and the Hive Mind was never defeated at all.
    • The biggest Hope Spot in the show is when it turns out the other survivor in PEIP's Witness Protection program, "Ben Bridges", is actually a miraculously alive Paul. You can hear the audience gasp in surprise and relief just before he begins to sing...
  • Horror Comedy: A new genre for Starkid. While of course at first as with any Starkid production the comedy seems to predominate, things get dark enough that it arguably qualifies for both sides of the genre.
  • Human-Interest Story: The Langs invented Peanuts the Pocket Squirrel as a joke about the ultimate version of a fluffy viral story: a squirrel who was abandoned by his mother because he was too sickly to survive and was adopted by a lonely military veteran who kept him in his pocket until he grew too big, forcing him to set up a GoFundMe to build Peanuts a new home. Gets an ironic callback later on when the new heartwarming fluff piece is that Peanuts is the sole survivor of Hatchetfield.
  • Humble Goal: Mr. Davidson wants his wife to chock him while he jerks off.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Prof. Hidgens reveals that among the essential supplies he stockpiled to wait out the apocalypse in his bunker is, logically enough, a fully stocked bar.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: When everyone reacts in shock that Prof. Hidgens has "killed Charlotte" after her assimilation, he replies, "I killed a charla-TAN!"
    • The No Such Agency is named PEIP partly because its members are encouraged to make "not a peep" about its existence.
  • The Ingenue: Mariah Rose Faith is significantly younger than the rest of Team Starkid and has been cast here to play younger characters such as Emma's "theatre kid" coworker Zoey and Bill's seventeen-year-old Bratty Teenage Daughter.
    • Prof. Hidgens himself, a grizzled Knight in Sour Armor, is the polar opposite of an ingenue, but the lead singer in the title number of Workin' Boys is specifically called out as "Mr. Ingenue" by the lyrics of "Showstopping Number". Sure enough, Robert Manion instantly becomes fifteen years younger and his voice rises to a piercing tenor when he begins singing "Henry's" part.
  • Instant Expert: A telltale sign of being infected by The Virus is suddenly gaining the ability to sing and dance perfectly without prior training. Hilariously, the ability to sing and dance badly becomes a Trust Password for survivors.
    • It doesn't stop there — unfortunately, Paul and Emma learn the Hive Mind is capable of sharing all kinds of other skills with its members, like flying a helicopter.
  • Instant Sedation: Played for Laughs when Prof. Hidgens injects Emma with a drug, juxtaposed with Paul getting a Tap on the Head from Gen. Mc Namara.
  • "I Want" Song: The Virus is apparently aware of this trope. Assimilation into becoming a musical character seems to specifically happen as a result of being made to sing one of these. The musical zombies are constantly trying to get Paul to join in one, but it's an Inverted Trope and Defied Trope with him. He has no big character motive. His overall contentment with his life, unlike that of a typical musical character, seems to be part of his resistance to them. (This may be a Mythology Gag referring to how the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) detect unconverted humans through strong emotion.)
    Mr. Davidson: So, what do you want, Paul? What's that one concrete goal that motivates all your actions?
    Paul: I don't think I have one of those!
    Mr. Davidson: Well, then how's anyone supposed to sympathize with you, Paul?
    Paul: I don't know, I want what anyone wants? Money, a partner?
  • Join or Die: Parodied with the song "Join Us and Die."
  • Keystone Army: Destroying the meteor will apparently stop the aliens.
  • Large Ham: Robert Manion as Prof. Hidgens not only uses a loud, deep voice for the character, but just about every scene he's in has him acting as dramatically and grandiose as possible. This is taken Up to Eleven in "Show Stoppin' Number", a song that begins with Prof. Hidgens singing about the downfall of humanity and turns into him describing a musical he was working on.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Alice, whose girlfriend Deb is the Butch Lesbian in the relationship.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: With only eight members of the cast, everyone (except Jon Matteson playing Paul) had a ton of quick changes, often with costumes as different from each other as possible to keep them from getting confused. (Mariah Rose Faith's outfit as Alice, for instance, doesn't share a single piece in common with any of her others.)
  • Love Dodecahedron: A Love Quadrilateral, with Charlotte trapped in an unhappy marriage with Sam, who is cheating on her with Zoey (the latest of many girlfriends), driving her to cheat on him back with Ted. The final leg of the quadrilateral is drawn when it's eventually revealed that Ted has been nursing a crush on Zoey (when Paul had assumed he was talking about Emma).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Given the nature of this musical every upbeat/positive song on the soundtrack could be this, but special mention goes to "La Dee Dah Dah Day", written to be a peppy Crowd Song but actually heralding the Zombie Apocalypse, and "Inevitable", a triumphant Reprise Medley reuniting the whole cast to sing about how they earned their happy ending... from the perspective of the Hive Mind controlling them.
  • Magic Meteor: The explanation for the alien plague's arrival. Early in the musical, a meateor crash-lands right into the Starlight Theater.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Paul and his coworkers end up the Sole Survivors of the apocalypse, at least that we know of.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The "good girl" that Bill negatively contrasts Alice's girlfriend Deb to happens to be named "Grace Chasity".
    • The impact site of the meteor that becomes the locus of the alien invasion is the Starlight Theater.
  • The Men in Black: PEIP are a secret government branch that are implied to have dealt with things like this before.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "Not Your Seed" is one of the few songs completely devoid of comedy and it ends with the assimilated Alice shooting her father in the back... then immediately follows with a comedic scene of the assimilated trying to Speak in Unison but failing to agree on what to say.
    • A split-second one occurs right at the end. After being convinced that Paul died in the destruction of the meteor, the sight of him alive and well and reunited with Emma is enough to send the audience into full squeeing mode. But then he starts to sing and, in the taped recording, you can audibly hear the audience's mood switch to dread in an instant.
  • Moment Killer: Before Paul goes off to destroy the meteor, he and Emma lean in for a kiss... Only for her to cough up blood in his face, ruining the mood. She tries to re-initiate the kiss, but he's too grossed out to do so.
  • Mr. Exposition: Prof. Hidgens is the obligatory Mad Scientist with an unlikely level of familiarity with the alien phenomenon who shows up midway through a classic science fiction monster movie for the benefit of the main characters (and the audience).
  • Musicalis Interruptus: The "Black coffee/I'm your coffee gal" song Emma briefly sings when Paul returns to the coffee shop, making him think she's infected.
    • Both "Show Me Your Hands" and "Join Us And Die" are prematurely ended by someone knocking out/killing Sam while he's in mid-sentence.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: With the exception of the Opening Chorus, all of the musical numbers in the show are diegetic and occur as a result of the plague. (This means that, for a musical, there's an unusually long dry spell with no songs in Act I before the meteor hits.)
  • Mythology Gag: The characters being challenged to recreate the opening of Moana is similar to the cast being challenged to recount various musicals from memory (including Frozen) as a Kickstarter milestone while fundraising for the show.
    • Alice has barricaded herself in the choir room of Hatchetfield High, just as Joey Richter did in Me and My Dick, although for a much more serious reason.
  • Nervous Wreck: Poor, poor Charlotte. First she's always on edge due to her failing marriage. Once aliens invade and her husband becomes part of the Hive Mind, she's barely coherent.
  • Newhart Phonecall: Used multiple times throughout the musical, especially for Bill's conversations with Alice. Played for laughs when used as the formulaic opening to Workin' Boys (possibly as a Shout-Out to RENT).
  • No Such Agency: The PEIP Unit that shows up in Act 2 appears to be your standard black ops agency authorized to operate outside the law and apart from the normal command structure (although, at least one of them still refers to them as just "the army").
  • Noticing the Fourth Wall: The obviously meta nature of this musical about "the world becoming a musical" when their world actually is a musical in Real Life starts going Up to Eleven during "Inevitable". Emma never actually straight up says she realizes she's a character in a musical, but the fourth wall gradually vanishes completely during this number, where she tries to escape the stage only to realize the "corridor" she ran into is "just a fucking loop" because it's just the backstage area, she somehow notices the audience exists and starts begging them for help, and remains in-character screaming "Why are you clapping?!" during the curtain call. Kicked off a lot of Wild Mass Guessing, especially when Black Friday's Cerebus Syndrome made this setting a lot more serious.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: It's not clear whether the converted singing-and-dancing humans would be more appropriately called "zombies" or "pod people", but the characters avoid either in favor of simply saying "Them". Ted refers to them as zombies in a line however.
  • Only Sane Man: Paul, whose natural hatred of musicals seems to make him The Immune to the musical plague.
  • Opening Chorus: One that provides basic exposition for the show and, hilariously, has the titular main character missing from it despite a big Bait-and-Switch introduction for him as the final solo (after all, he doesn't like musicals).
  • Pinch Me: Paul's reaction to "What Do You Want, Paul?" is that he must be hallucinating or, better yet, still asleep and dreaming. This doesn't last.
  • Pistol-Whipping: The soldiers knock Paul out with the butt of a gun because they think he's infected.
  • Porn Stache: Joey Richter sports a serious one in this show, in keeping with Ted's "sleazeball" image.
  • Product Placement: Hilariously, Prof. Hidgens' Benevolent A.I. assistant "Alexa" is just an off-the-shelf Amazon Echo. He uses this as an example of how no science fiction scenario is too implausible to happen in real life.
  • The Quisling: Prof. Hidgens joins with the aliens due to rant against The Evils of Free Will and love of musical theatre.
  • Radio Voice: The newscast updates we get from Hatchetfield news anchors Dan and Donna. (We only hear Donna, who is played by Lauren Lopez, but Dan also appears in the Black Friday announcement trailer, played by Joey Richter.) Also their counterparts in Clivesdale, Rachel and Rod. (We only hear Rod, who is also played by Joey.)
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: "La Dee Dah Dah Day" ends with the everyone exclaiming "Lights down!" followed by "Quick change, quick change!"
    • For extra meta, the homeless man who says "Quick change" is Joey Richter, who indeed has to come onstage again almost immediately as Paul's coworker Ted.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As big of a "creep" as Ted may be, he was right — going to rescue Alice was a Suicide Mission. The zombies got her long before Bill and Paul even set foot on campus, and all Bill accomplished was getting himself killed.
    • Emma makes a compelling argument for why it would make sense that the meteor itself is a Hive Queen and destroying it would end the infection... but at the end of the day she's just a community college biology student hypothesizing about a bizarre and unprecedented alien invasion. All that needed to be true for the plan to fall was that some part of her theory was wrong, and it was.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech
    • Emma delivers a blistering one to Zoey and Nora about their theatrical ambitions when she quits her job.
    • "Not Your Seed" amounts to one of these set to elaborate music and choreography for Bill, assuring him that Alice's death and assimilation are all due to his fault as a parent, attempting to drive him to suicide. It works.
  • Reprise Medley
    • At the end, as usual for a Starkid Production. In this case the assimilated humans use the final medley, "Inevitable", to torment Emma and confirm that they won.
    • All of the previous songs were already at least a little dark and villainous, given the nature of this show, but with the new context of Paul announcing that he's finally been assimilated and Emma is about to be, they are most definitely all a Dark Reprise, Villainous Reprise and also Triumphant Reprise. This especially goes for the reprise of "What Do You Want, Paul?", where Paul finally knows what he wants — to assimilate Emma. Also compare "Showstopping Number", which only pissed off Emma the first time she watched it and now makes her collapse in despair.
  • Retraux: "Cup of Roasted Coffee" is Jeff Blim's homage to old advertising jingles from the early 20th century with a standard trio of Chorus Girls shilling a product. Complete with Jeff hitting the thesaurus for old-timey terms for coffee ("cuppa joey", "mud in a cup").
  • Rule of Drama
    • In-universe. Much of the plot of the show seems to be the Hive Mind toying with the main characters because creating dramatic situations is part of its basic nature (since, well, it's making the world into a musical).
    • The Hive Mind openly tells Paul that it is offended by his resistance to assimilation and intends to psychologically and physically torture him until he "begs for apotheosis".
  • Running Gag: Jeff Blim's character gets "killed"/interrupted mid-song three times.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Alice and Deb, although they don't actually attend the same school.
  • Self-Deprecation: The show goes from Paul's initial disgust and disdain for anyone involved in musical theatre into depicting musical theatre as a horrifying plague that will destroy human free will. Amplified with Emma, who goes on a rant about how insufferable it is to work with "theatre kids" who literally can't talk or think about anything but their frivolous hobby and selfish, unrealistic dreams. (This is even more pointed in the original draft of the script, where she says that even she wasn't irresponsible enough to go to college for a theatre major and rack up debt at an expensive school with no prospect of a real job — i.e. exactly what all the UMich theatre grads in Team Starkid did in Real Life.)
  • Serial Homewrecker: Ted is sleeping with the married Charlotte, and implies this is a pattern for him. However, it's also shown that he has sincere romantic feelings for her, making it hard to tell whether he genuinely is this trope, or if he's just claiming to be so he can cover up his emotions, since she still wants to stay with her husband.
    Ted: [gazing into Charlotte's eyes] If I'm gonna die, I want to die doing what I love. [Beat.] Screwing around with another man's wife.
  • Sexy Figure Gesture: Paul's infected boss attempts the "hourglass figure" gesture in "What Do You Want, Paul", but makes the curves go all the way to the floor.
  • Ship Sinking: Paul and Emma get several moments of one-on-one chemistry in the show. Paul has had a crush on Emma for a while, and over the course of the story, Emma begins to reciprocate, with the implication that she was going to talk about it before an assimilated Charlotte came in. They even get an Almost Kiss before the climax. Unfortunately, Paul is assimilated, and the musical ends with him and the other aliens happily dragging Emma to her doom.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Multiple musicals are mentioned in the script, including Hamilton, Mamma Mia! and Brigadoon. (Note that Brigadoon is the show that started Paul's hatred of musicals, and is the one that most fits the stereotype of musicals depicting a Crapsaccharine World.)
    • Prof. Hidgens' appearance and demeanor is a mash-up of Leonard Nimoy's role as Dr. Kibner in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and Carl Sagan in Cosmos.
    • The "No Talking or Phones" Warning of the live show is a parody of the narration of The Haunted Mansion, filled with Played for Laughs Blatant Lies (the room is not visibly stretching as the narrator speaks, the exits to the theater have not mysteriously vanished, and the upcoming show has nothing to do with ghosts).
    • At one point, the characters sing the opening song of Moana very badly to prove to Professor Hidgens that they haven't been infected by the musical theatre virus.
    • Among Ted's obnoxious habits is his use of Borat's "My wife!" Catchphrase.
    • Sam's scene where he pleads to Charlotte, "I hurt my head real bad, I think I need a doctor" matches the equivalent scene from The Shining, with the added bonus that his head has literally broken open and is missing its brain. A gift for the fandom that has frequently compared Jeff Blim's Slasher Smile to Jack Nicholson's.
    • The characters hiding from the plague inside metal trash cans is reminiscent of Samuel Beckett's Endgame.
    • Emma says her boss originally got the idea to make their coffeeshop a singing and dancing establishment from visiting a Coldstone Creamery.
    • During "Let It Out", Paul wonders if the secret to happiness is "singing and dancing through life".
    • Paul praises the coffee at Beanie's as "damn fine coffee", complete with Dale Cooper's iconic thumbs up.
    • There are many similarities between this show and the classic Horror Comedy musical Little Shop of Horrors; one of the most remarked upon is the ending, which, like "Don't Feed the Plants" from the original stage version of Little Shop of Horrors, reunites deceased characters onstage as "assimilated" parts of the antagonist, and pulls a The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You to show nothing now stops the bad guy from taking over the world.
    • Jon Matteson says he based his performance of Paul Fighting from the Inside against assimilation in "Let It Out" on the song "Confrontation" from Jekyll & Hyde.
    • Charlotte and Sam's exclamations during their No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of Ted ("Punch it! Squeeze it! Crush it! Kill it!") seems to reference the children's toy Bop It!
    • During the song "Not Your Seed", Alice, Deb and the unnamed third teenager played by Lauren Lopez are dressed in pink, green and yellow-orange respectively, mimicking the Color-Coded for Your Convenience outfits of the titular characters in Heathers.
    • After "Not Your Seed", the three girls say that Paul has "thrice defied" them, adding to the long list of Harry Potter references used by Team Starkid.
    • Robert Manion has confirmed that Prof. Hidgens in "Showstoppin' Number" becomes an unexpected Expy of Dr. Frank N. Furter. Likewise, Sam having a solo as an Only Mostly Dead zombie in "You Tied Up My Heart" is a reference to Eddie's solo "Hot Patootie" in Rocky Horror, and Jeff said he sung it in the style of Meat Loaf.
    • Jeff Blim said the song "La Dee Dah Dah Day" was an homage to an Irrelevant Act Opener with Word Salad Lyrics like "Shipoopi!" from The Music Man, although "la dee dah dah" wasn't quite as silly a set of Scatting syllables as he was going for. (And ironically the "irrelevance" of the song is very plot-relevant — the random unnamed bystanders singing a happy Crowd Song reveals the nature of the Hive Mind to Paul.)
    • Pauls two male co-workers are named Bill & Ted.
  • Show Within a Show: Prof. Hidgens' magnum opus Workin' Boys: A New Musical. It's never left the working floor, but he pitches it to Emma and Ted and sings the main number for them.
  • Significant Double Casting: Jeff Blim, who cowrote the show, gave himself three major parts, Mr. Davidson, Sam and Gen. McNamara, all of whom are authority figures and all of whom abuse their authority against Paul after being assimilated.
  • Slow Motion:
    • Just like in The Trail to Oregon!, we get a hilariously dramatic slo-mo scene performed in live action as Paul kicks the pistol out of Zoey's hand as the helicopter crashes.
    • The final scene of the musical has Paul and the other assimilated residents bearing down on Emma as she screams, all in dramatic slow-motion.
  • Small Town Rivalry: Hatchetfield and Clivesdale. Also between Hatchetfield's two public high schools, Hatchetfield High and Sycamore.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job:
    • Paul's job is presented like this, although in a subversion of the trope he doesn't seem to mind it as much as his colleagues — possibly one reason he's resistant to infection (see "I Want" Song above).
    • Prof. Hidgens' musical Workin' Boys is about this, despite the fact that it seemingly has no relevance to his life situation.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez are one-scene wonders as the Smoke Club, a club dedicated to nothing but smoking.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The cast struggling their way through the opening to Moana as a Trust Password for Prof. Hidgens, proving they're uninfected because none of them can stay anywhere close to the right pitch or beat (with Bill unconsciously switching to "The Circle of Life" halfway through).
    • There's some Irony that the verve with which Robert Manion performs "Workin' Boys" has led fans to clamor for a full musical, since according to Nick Lang a big part of the humor is that "Workin' Boys" is intentionally a terrible idea for a musical that has no plot beyond what we see in the Show Within a Show. (But see Defictionalization on the Trivia tab.)
  • Summon Backup Dancers: Happens regularly in the musical numbers. Hilariously, in this show it's an actual diegetic, supernatural ability. Prof. Hidgens is able to summon the zombies to his compound by singing "Showstopping Number" in a heartfelt enough performance that the Hive Mind "casts" two men as his characters "Greg" and "Stu" just to perform the finale to the song.
  • Survival Mantra: Paul’s anxious refrain of “Okay...okay...okay...”. Notable in that it’s gone when he goes to destroy the meteor.
  • Tap on the Head: The gang knock San out with a trash can lid.
  • Tenor Boy: Played with. Robert Manion displays his impressive vocal range by giving Prof. Hidgens the baritone expected from an older mentor character that transforms into a piercing tenor when he becomes the protagonist of Workin' Boys. When Paul himself starts singing, he turns out to have an angelic leading man tenor too.
  • This Is a Song:
    • Most of the songs in the musical are this to some degree, like the Opening Chorus making reference to its own "bridge part, where we globalize everything". Special mention goes to "What Do You Want, Paul?" which directly explains the idea of an "I Want" Song.
    • "Showstopping Number" which is ostensibly about the title number of Hidgens' Show Within a Show Workin' Boys, could very well be describing itself. (And is itself a pastiche of many meta Let's Put on a Show! songs from Broadway musicals like "Another Op'ning of Another Show".)
    • Nick Lang has revealed the whole concept of this show was built around the idea of three "meta" songs poking fun at musical clichés: an Opening Chorus that sounds like a typical Bragging Theme Tune but turns into a "The Hero Sucks" Song simply because the hero doesn't like musicals, an inverted "I Want" Song about how the speaker wants someone else to tell him what they want, and an "I Am Great!" Song that explains the concept of The Eleven O'Clock Number and the Show Stopper and openly describes itself as such. (As noted above, the last of these ideas isn't all that unique, which is why they added the Meta Twist that "Showstopping Number" isn't actually describing itself but a second, completely different song-within-a-song, "Workin' Boys".)
    • "La Dee Dah Dah Day" continues this trend to a lesser extent, being an Irrelevant Act Opener about the fact that it's an irrelevant act opener, i.e. bystanders singing about how they find themselves singing for no reason.
  • Villain Song:
    • Considering the main antagonist is a musical virus, and Prof. Hidgens displays a fondness for musical theater after going off the deep end, one can argue all the songs are villain songs. (The Opening Chorus happens chronologically before the aliens arrive but is still from the POV of the Hive Mind, as confirmed by the Call-Back to it before "Let It Out".)
    • The song that's written to be most similar to a traditional Villain Song though is "Join Us and Die", where the zombies reveal they've given up subterfuge and become openly violent.
  • The Virus: Musical theatre version.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Jeff Blim repeatedly gives himself songs to sing that hit the very limit of what his falsetto can reach, and you can hear the strain. YMMV on whether the comedic value of this is ultimately good or bad for the show.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In a surprisingly visceral moment, Paul turns away from the audience and vomits while struggling to resist the Hive Mind during "Let It Out".
  • Weirdness Magnet: With the reveal of Black Friday, a horror comedy prequel to this show, the "tiny town of Hatchetfield" has become this.
  • Whole Plot Reference
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: The coffeeshop Emma works at, as part of the owner's obsession with musicals and showbiz in general, seems to be a cross between Starbucks and Hooters, exclusively hiring Ms. Fanservice baristas dressed in short shorts and making them sing and dance for the customers.
  • You Bastard!: The show ends with the house lights coming on, Emma becoming aware of the audience, and Emma tearfully begging them to call 911 or help her escape the theater while the rest of the cast finish their curtain calls. They drag her away kicking and screaming as the stage lights black out.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: