Enoch Augustus Scott is the “Zombie” star who is forever the life of the party. But the frontman of the city’s pre-eminent undead musical comedy, “Zombie Burlesque,” is much more than that.
Scott is developing a spoof of Netflix’s “Tiger King” series, taking on the delicious lead role of protagonist Joe Exotic. The sequel, “Tiger King 2,” premiered this month, returning the “Tiger King” saga to the popular lexicon.
The Vegas musical, yet to be formally titled, is bound for the V Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort, also home to “Zombie Burlesque.” The premiere is likely to take place the first week in January.
Theater proprietor David Saxe is backing the project and, along with Scott, is co-directing.
The script has Exotic (real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) escaping federal prison and bolting to Vegas. Did we say escape? “Self-released” is how Scott terms it. He says the inconvenient reality of Exotic’s battle with cancer while incarcerated should not curtail his creative brainchild.
More from our chat in the Luxor sportsbook, the site chosen simply because we were both in the neighborhood:
Johnny Kats: Tell me about why you are pursuing a parody about “The Tiger King.” Why is this show a requirement?
Enoch Augustus Scott: When I first saw Joe Exotic, something happened. I just understood him. We are not that far apart in age. I can empathize with a gay man who grew up in Oklahoma, with a toxic-masculine father and surrounded by all that toxic masculinity. Luckily, I didn’t have that exact same experience. But who knows what would have been of Joe Exotic if someone would have just told him at some point “I love you” when he was younger? He might have turned out very differently, and not this guy who eventually went off the rails.
Joe Exotic has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Is this a complication for the show?
I have full faith in that guy’s resilience, his ability to survive.
You see him as a tragic figure?
I do, right now, yeah. I mean, my heart breaks for any gay man who comes from a culture where he couldn’t find acceptance.
OK, I know how you portray, and can portray, a character onstage. How are you going to counterbalance your real feelings for Joe Exotic with a comedy satire in Las Vegas?
I am really just trying to understand him as a complete creature, and then focus on the good stuff. I want to have fun. That is why I get onstage, to have a good time, especially in Las Vegas. And to try to reclaim him and to focus on the folk hero part of him that people identified with in the first place.
An honest portrayal but exaggerated satirically?
Yeah, we can all laugh and have a good time with an honest message. Every project, from “Zombie” to Pixar, needs to have an emotional truth. In “Zombie” we have a laugh, but we have a moment where it is real, where there is a truth about how we treat each other. There has to be some emotion to any piece of art. I don’t care whether it’s “Zombie” or Carrot Top or David Copperfield, whatever, you come out feeling you know what this show means.
You have cast Penny Wiggins, who played Psychic Tanya in The Amazing Johnathan show for years, as Carole Baskin. You must feel pretty lucky.
The fact that Penny texted me was unexpected. I wasn’t even thinking of her, really. She was just outside my thought process. And she’s like, “Hey, if you need a Carole,” and then she sent me some stuff. I was like, “Of course! Of course!” I was like, “(Expletive) yeah!” I told David and he agreed. He’s such a huge fan of hers.
You’re already in a successful show with “Zombie,” which just came back. How are you going to manage your schedule?
The plan is to do both. I mean, that’s my plan. That’s been my dream. That’s what I’ve been chanting to Buddha. You know, I work an hour and a half a day. It’s not enough work, OK? I need more!
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.