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A Mockumentary

In 1999, long-time Lovecraftian writers/producers Sean Branney and Andrew Leman managed to obtain a forgotten press release and the only known copy of this footage from A Shoggoth on the Roof. With these clues, they set out on a relentless mission: to learn who would actually attempt to stage a Lovecraftian musical, and what happened when they did. The result is A Shoggoth on the Roof: the Documentary.

This investigative documentary intercuts between original production footage and contemporary interviews with Lovecraftian luminaries. The filmmakers track down cast members from the 1979 production, some of whom went on to receive Oscar™ nominations, others of whom were confined in psychiatric institutions. Although mystery still shrouds the production, this 20-minute documentary irrefutably proves that there are some things man was not meant to adapt to musical theatre. A Shoggoth on the Roof: the Documentary premiered at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, OR and Salem, MA in October 2000, and was later screened at the NecronomiCon, 5th Edition, in Providence, Rhode Island August 17-19, 2001.

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Production Team

Written, produced and directed by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman
Music by Jerry Bock
"Byahkee Byakhee" music arranged and produced by Chris Horvath
Sung by Holly Long and Rebecca Marcotte

Bottomless Gratitude to
Gene & Toni Bua
Sean Branney (the other one)
Doug Campbell
James Dumont
Shawn Simons
Aaron Vanek

Profound Apologies to
Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick
Sholem Aleichem
H.P. Lovecraft

Special Thanks to
Screen Actors Guild

The Players

Interview Subjects:
Dan Harper
Nicolette Chaffey
Jeff Murray
Stuart Gordon
Brigitte Mahaney
Tamara McDonough
Chris Sarandon

Rehearsal Footage:
Jenn Anderson
Eric Amundson
Leslie Baldwin
Suzie Baldwin
Jon Beauregard
Aidan Branney
Eric Drachman
Steven Einspahr
Chad Fifer
Susan Hegarty
John Jabaley
Chris Lackey
Jeffrey Lieber
Holly Long
Barry Lynch
Stephanie Morey
Redetha Rampenthal
Rick Risemberg

A Shoggoth on the Roof

The Original Cast

Who were the poor wretches involved in the 1979 production? Apart from a few individuals, we know virtually nothing about them. We've isolated still photos from the rehearsal footage and assembled what information we have on them. If you know of anyone who was a member of the original cast or crew, we want to talk to you.

Behind the Scenes


BuasThe rehearsal footage was filmed at the Acting for Life Theater run by Gene and Toni Bull Bua in Burbank, California. Gene and Toni were both soap opera heartthrobs in the late 1960s/early '70s, appearing together on Love of Life. Gene later became a beloved acting teacher, and he and Toni mentored a generation of aspiring actors including Brad Pitt, Drew Barrymore and others. They were also extremely kind and generous theatrical landlords, and their converted storefront theater in the Magnolia Park neighborhood was the home of Theatre Banshee, run by Sean Branney and his wife Leslie Baldwin, for many years. Gene and Toni have both since passed away, and they are missed.

Sean Branney's interview footage was filmed in his own backyard in Glendale. Andrew was interviewed in his own apartment near downtown Hollywood, sitting in front of the shelves of his workroom. Dan Harper was interviewed in his own office at Theatre LA, which is a nonprofit theatre advocacy organization now known as LA Stage Alliance. Nicolette Chaffey and Jeff Murray, who at the time of filming ran Theater/Theatre in a highrise office building on Hollywood Blvd., were interviewed by the swimming pool of the apartment complex where Leman lived at the time. Their theatre was a famed Equity-waiver house, a Hollywood mainstay since 1984, dedicated to performing new works, or at least works new to Los Angeles. Jeff and Nicolette produced hundreds of shows over the years in a number of venues. They were forced out of their highrise space and later moved to the west side of town. They still have a website, but it appears not to have been updated in several years.

Stuart Gordon graciously allowed us to shoot his interview in his own office at Red Hen Productions in Burbank. Stuart, who is famous to Lovecraft fans for his movie versions of "Herbert West - Reanimator", "From Beyond", "Dreams in the Witch House" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (titled Dagon), was a very good sport and improvised his own dialogue. Although a seedy motel on Sunset Blvd. served as an exterior, the interview with Brigitte Mahaney was actually conducted in the apartment of Tamara McDonough. We were unable to conceal the staircase inside, which did somewhat undermine the illusion that it was a hotel room. Brigitte was the only interview subject who was playing an entirely fictional character, and the only person who appears in both the rehearsal footage and the interviews. Tamara's own interview was filmed in her offices. She was working in Hollywood as an assistant editor on feature films at the time. If memory serves she was working on Antitrust, and generously allowed us to film scenes in her editing suite. Tamara also helped us to re-edit our earlier film, The Testimony of Randolph Carter and prepare it for a new release, but since the original tapes were lost there was only so much that could be done.

No one remembers exactly how we managed to get the script into the hands of Academy Award-winning actor Chris Sarandon, but it might have been through Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer, who later worked with Chris on their own animated film, The Chosen One. We were quite thrilled when he agreed to participate. Lovecraft fans know him from his performances in genre films like The Resurrected and Fright Night, as well as the much-beloved The Princess Bride. His scenes were filmed guerilla-style on the backlot at Universal Studios. Like Stuart Gordon, Mr. Sarandon was an awfully good sport.


Just a few pieces of lyrics were written for the rehearsal scenes, but we wanted to have one fully-produced number from the show to play over the closing credits. After writing the lyrics, we turned to our friend Chris Horvath at Jamnation Music. Chris is a musician and music producer who, at that time, ran a recording studio on the west side of Los Angeles called the Cactus Tree Motel. He arranged a digital instrumental version of "Byakhee Byakhee". We then asked two of the best singers we know, Rebecca Marcotte and Holly Long, to provide the voices of Asenath and Jill Armitage. Chris and Holly had worked together before on some of her music, so things went quite smoothly. Rebecca and Holly went on to reprise their roles in the HPLHS cast album of the show, and the HPLHS returned to the Cactus Tree Motel to record the first several episodes of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre.