Driving the Stake into Buffy Musical


Published: November 8, 2007

Even after being off the air for four years, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was still striving towards eternal life. The touring production of the “Once More with Feeling” musical episode, one of the show’s remaining flames, has now been put out by Fox.

Fox, in association with Criterion Pictures, has pulled the licensing for all theatre productions of their TV shows, putting the “Buffy Musical” on hiatus. The fan-created production had been charging admission to its patrons, but only to cover the show’s expenses. Neither the actors nor the show organizer were making a profit. The Screen Actor’s Guild was informed that the actors were not getting paid and billed Fox, who then pulled the plug on the production, since they were unaware that this was occurring. The abrupt decision has left fans everywhere outraged.

The musical was a re-enactment of the season six hit episode and played in cities across the country. The midnight shows had the same kind of feel as those of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, where fans would dress up for the performances, becoming engulfed by the entertainment before them. Here in New York, there were monthly performances at the IFC theater, even while the show toured to various other cities. With the abrupt news of the cancellation earlier this month, Buffy enthusiasts can no longer sing along to a passionate performance of a classic episode acted out by fellow fans.

Never has a television show developed into a midnight production at a movie theatre, but “Buffy” has always ventured into new territory and crossed new boundaries. The cancellation came as a surprise, especially since no one thought they were doing anything wrong. As show creator Clinton McClung said in an interview to MTV, “It’s one thing to be throwing a fan-based event with no legal clearance and have it shut down by lawyers, but it is another entirely to be trying your best to keep it all above the board and legal and still have it come to a crashing halt.”

The concept behind the original “Buffy” episode was that an evil presence in Sunnydale caused everyone to break into song and dance as they expressed their deep secrets. To fans, it was pure entertainment that developed into something that they could hold onto even though the show was off the air. The cancellation of the touring production has taken away all of that fun. Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy”, “Angel” and the movie “Serenity” called the cancellation “hugely depressing” on his blog—and that certainly is the case for the cult following of the show. “I love Buffy and always will. The only way for the show to live on is through things like this. I hope they can work out some sort of deal,” said Leidy Reyes, FCLC ’09.

The future of the Buffy musical now lies in the hands of the fans. The show’s website, www.uncoolkids.com/buffy, mentions an online petition, their march at the Village Halloween Parade and further updates on the future of the show. As of Oct. 27, the petition on www.petitionspot.com had 3,598 signatures, although the site appears to have been shut down since.

It’s unclear whether any of this outpouring on the web will be of any benefit, but it does show the public outcry over the incident. Even news Web sites such as CNN.com had coverage of the cancellation, but that’s not any compensation for the fans that missed out. “I didn’t have a chance to see the show before and now the opportunity has been taken away from me,” said Elayne Abreu, FCLC ’10.

While most people weren’t aware that a musical production even existed, the die-hard fans knew it was out there, just as they know the show is now continuing in its eighth season in comic book form. Buffy fans have always been very passionate and it’s hard to calm them down.

There may still be comfort in knowing that Buffy herself died twice and still managed to return from the grave. Fans hope that it will happen again once more, with feeling.