It’s a scientific fact. Somewhere in the world, there’s at least one screen showing an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old person watching a rerun on USA because they mistook it for Matlock or a serial downloader watching an illegally obtained episode on their computer because it’s the only thing left they haven’t burned to their hard drive after literally downloading the entire Internet.
Hell, there are less crimes against actual special victims than there are opportunities to watch an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
That also means it’s more than earned a deep foothold in popular culture as the show that you can’t escape whether it’s hearing that iconic “Dun Dun” interspatial sound effect or just enjoying the warming glow of a stupid spotlight that bounces off of Christopher Meloni’s shiny head. So it’s time someone found another way to showcase these familiar characters and comedian Lauren Davis stumbled across it during a sketch comedy course at the Dallas Comedy House.
The comedian was tasked with combining two tropes of pop culture into one sketch for her group "Fraud City" to create a new parody. Turning Law & Order: SVU into a musical seemed like the most logical illogical idea.
“The assignment was merging two different pop culture paradigms,” says Davis. “I just thought it was funny because it was stupid. Also, everyone loves Law & Order.”
Davis’ sketch became one of the biggest highlights of her Level 3 class’ showcase that the group kept talking about long after they completed the course. Now, they’ve expanded a short sketch into a full-length musical or “SVUsical” as they call it that will premiere at 9 p.m. Friday. at the Dallas Comedy House with a continued run every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. throughout August.
“Most of the compliments we got from our show were about that particular sketch,” comedian and cast member Grant Redmond says. “I think we all knew that we had to expand on it.”
Naturally, the writing came very easy to the cast and comedians involved with the production that includes Davis, Redmond, Christian Hughes, Paulos Feerow, Sean McEwan and Susie Falcone. DCH founder and owner Amanda Austin directs the show.
“It's super fun and easy to sit around with this group and pitch and write,” says Austin. “It's completely different to bring it to life. Still as much fun, just intense.”
The original sketch and the new full length production doesn’t derive its humor from turning the show’s off-black subject material into cannon fodder for a peppy musical.
“We really tried to focus on the relationships of the detectives and the blow out of the subtle humorous undertones the characters have with each other,” says Hughes. “Sure, there's always the opportunity to make a joke at the victim or crime's expense with this stuff but in the end it's not really funny and just gets too dark and gross. It's not really a crowd pleaser. I think our over-exaggerated interpretation of the characters makes for way better comedy.”
It’s hard to describe the plot of the musical without giving away too much of the story but rest assured, it features all the usual troupes of an SVU show if the writers of Avenue Q exchanged long, biting speeches about justice and fairness with flowing tones of dance routines and musical numbers.
“There are a couple of ballads, a couple of parodies of musical songs and also some original songs,” Feerow says. “Every song I want to say is a different musical style. But I think some would be fun to watch without knowing what your walking into.”
“We don't want to make fun of the crimes,” Redmond added. “It's just the dynamic of characters surrounding the crime.”
It also aims to make fun of the mark that SVU has left on the TV landscape as the show that you can’t escape and would report to a special prosecution for second-class felony stalking if it were a person.
“This is definitely a musical you can binge watch likeSVU,” Hughes says. “It's also a musical you can leave on while you're doing chores around the house, again like SVU.”
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune,Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.