As the lights come up on this three-act show (full disclosure, my first live theater since COVID-19), Dr. Horrible’s maniacal laugh brings to life the demented claustrophobia we’ve all been feeling for the last year and a half. Played by a charmingly pathetic Kevin Webb, Dr. Horrible is the worst kind of Internet troll—a lonely one with an unrequited crush and supervillain weapons at his disposal. Under the direction of Ed Rutherford and music direction of Micky York, this “authorized fan production” from Black Button Eyes of geeky Internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a fun, hammy pissing contest between the good doctor and Captain Hammer (Tommy Thurston), two egomaniacs who don’t deserve the affections of Penny (Stephanie Fongheiser), who’s just a well-meaning volunteer trying to help the homeless.
Dr. Horrible was released in 2008, long before the 2016 election brought these specific male archetypes into sharper relief and coauthor Joss Whedon’s sexual abuse and harassment allegations entered public consciousness (more on incels and the implications of Whedon in Catey Sullivan’s preview). The passing of time adds a troubling “life imitating art” aspect to the production, but Black Button Eyes is also staging this show as a benefit for nonprofit Season of Concern, which would make do-gooder Penny quite proud. While this run was originally scheduled for 2020, it’s a fitting transition back to the theater after months of isolation. Much of the action plays out on seven onstage screens (feels like home, right?) and the hour-plus run time pads in two ten-minute intermissions seemingly tailored to our atrophied attention spans.