Vestige Group

'Tis the season for 'Gorilla Man'

It's that time of year when children start dreaming of Gorilla Man. Well maybe not, but that hairy ape is headed our way to spread some holiday cheer. He appears in an offbeat new rock musical by New York City wunderkind Kyle Jarrow, the Obie Award-winning creator of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant. The Vestige Group is producing the regional premiere of Gorilla Man – in fact, it's only the third company anywhere to stage the show – and it's a bit of a departure for the theatre company. "A lot of our shows are really edgy and kind of depressing," says Vestige co-Artistic Director Susie Gidseg, who's directing the production. This one, though, is "really campy, but it actually has a message. I would say it's very uplifting." Gidseg was drawn to the show's smart humor. Co-Artistic Director Jen Brown, who found the script online, saw a good fit for local audiences. "I knew this was a show that had to be done in Austin," she says. "It blends the Austin bar/music scene so well with the Austin theatre scene."

This is also the company's first musical, so Gidseg brought Benjamin Wright on board to handle the music direction. She says, "I've learned that if you don't know how to do something, you find somebody who does." What Gidseg does know how to do is mount Vestige's shows in interesting alternative spaces, and Gorilla Man is no exception. It will play at the Creekside Lounge, normally home to rock bands and bar patrons. But that's a pretty apt setting for a rock musical that asks the age-old question: Will Billy the Gorilla Boy fall into the same violent tendencies of his rampaging father, Gorilla Man, or will he choose his better future?

Gidseg thinks audiences will enjoy the show even though her hirsute hero's story isn't the usual yuletide fare. "It has nothing to do with the holidays, but it's one of those feel-good things," she says. "Everyone come out. It's in a bar. Get a drink. Watch people sing and dance!" So if you want an alternative to wisecracking elves and syrupy sentiments, Gorilla Man may be just the warm cup of camp for you. Grab a beer, and tuck in for the terrifying and heartwarming tale of this perplexed primate.

Gorilla Man runs Thursdays-Saturdays, Dec. 4-20, 7:30pm, at the Creekside Lounge. 606 E. Seventh. For more information, visit

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Vestige Group, Gorilla Man, Susie Gidseg, Jen Brown, Benjamin Wright, Creekside Lounge

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