Cannibal: The Musical The Studio Theater in Lincoln Hall, PSU, 1620 SW Park, 725-3526, Thurs-Sun 8 pm, $12, through June 29
M ost fans of Trey Parker (the endlessly hilarious mastermind behind South Park) are also familiar with his epic film, Cannibal: The Musical, a cheap, campy showtune-filled send-up to cannibalistic Mormons. Cannibal's simple premise, small cast of characters and catchy songs makes it a natural choice for a film-to-stage adaptation, and the theatrical version of it has been kicking around for some time now.

The plot of Cannibal centers around Alfred Packer (Ira Kortum, who also directs the piece) a simplistic yokel living in the West during the Gold Rush days. He sings songs about his horse (portrayed effectively in this production by a brown bicycle with a horse head on the handlebars) and is a fairly content fellow, until the day he gets roped into leading a group of Mormons over the mountains and through dangerous terrain to a town where some gold is, or something. It hardly matters; what's important is that Packer's group runs out of food and, cold and starving, start to eat each other one by one. Cannibalistic Mormons! Yeah!

Along the way, Packer's crew also encounters a tribe of Indians who share a striking resemblance to Japanese people, a group of fur traders who arbitrarily decide to annoy them (the leader well-played by an excessively swishy Earl A. Coffman), and Packer loses his horse. It's all way more entertaining than it has any right to be. In one scene a member of Packer's party offers him a piece of fudge: "Fudge, Packer?" That joke's about the highest level of comedy this show has to offer, but it's all done with such glee it's hard not to laugh. Plus, Parker writes songs that are genuinely funny and catchy--"Spedoinkle Day" will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week.

TASO's production of all this is loaded with technical glitches, bad acting, and awful singing. But it's all in the spirit of the original film, which encourages that sort of behavior. In one scene on the night I attended, Kortum tried to shoot a team member, but the cap gun didn't go off, so he rushed over and killed the poor bastard with a well-placed pistol whip. It didn't look planned, but in Trey Parker's world, it felt completely right. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS