Title: Nerdy Prudes Must Die
Writers: Nick & Matt Lang (script), Jeff Blim (songs)
Starring: Will Branner as Max Jägerman, Mariah Rose Faith Casillas as Steph Lauter, Bryce Charles as Detective Shapiro, Corey Dorris as Mayor Lauter, Angela Giarratana as Grace Chasity, Lauren Lopez as Ruth Fleming, Jon Matteson as Richie Lipschitz, Curt Mega as Officer Bailey, Joey Richter as Peter Spankoffski, Kim Whalen as Miss Mulberry, and with special appearances by David Hamilton, Virginia Vass, and more!
Release Date: October 13, 2023
Streaming Service: YouTube
Team StarKid returns to Hatchetfield to continue the horror-comedy musical masterpiece that is the Hatchetfield series. Starting with the alien invasion of The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals to the Eldritch Horror of Black Friday and the two installments of Nightmare Time, these parallel worlds have unleashed terror down onto the seemingly unsuspecting town.
In this latest adventure, Nerdy Prudes Must Die, something supernatural stalks the halls of Hatchetfield High with a judge against nerdy prudes! As those on the lowest rung of the school social ladder drop like flies, a group bands together in hopes of surviving the onslaught, but exactly who – or what – is behind this mayhem?
The musical starts with the death of Richie Lipschitz. Introducing the title as the killer’s message in the victim’s blood, StarKid jumps into their first song “High School is Killing Me.” Steph Lauter convinces Peter Spankoffski to do her test for her, but Grace Chastity reveals their cheating, getting the pair sent to the principal’s office, starting off a chain of events that nobody saw coming.
Peter panics that someone will see them talking, and that he’ll be bullied as a result. This leads into the second song, “Literal Monster Pt 1” which introduces Max Jägerman. Max immediately targets Richie Lipschitz, implying the currents events take place before the death in the introduction. We also learn that Max has a crush on Grace Chasity.
When pressured by her father, Steph calls Peter for help, and Peter ends up confronting Max, getting himself a punch to his gut after talking himself up with “Cool As I Think I Am.” As Max goes to beat Peter up, we pan to the Chasity household. It’s every over the top wholesome 1950’s dinner scene which makes a hard right into reality as we discover Grace might have more boiling beneath the surface just as Max predicted.
Despite Max taking the lead for villain of the film considering the 1980’s slasher vibe, but Grace’s declaration that Max had to pay for causing her to have sexual thoughts. Finding Steph determined to get Max to pay for beating Peter, Grace arrives, announcing her desire to make him pay by pranking him which leads into “Bully the Bully.”
Their plan falls apart. Weirder still, Max thanks them for the prank, thinking they set this up to help him confront his fears. Right as this seems like a change for the better, he ends up falling to his death. His last words are the title of the show.
Grace pivots the group from panic to “Bury the Bully.” She convinces the rest to hide the body, reasoning it was a divine act and taking center stage as our villainous mastermind. However, nobody seems to miss him. Even Max’s friends celebrate his death in “Go Go Nighthawks!”
Unfortunately for Richie, this is when we return to the events of the opening scene. Max returns in the epic “Nerdy Prudes Must Die.” Richie’s last desperate recall of “Cool As I Think I Am” is absolutely heartbreaking.
When called in by the police, the remaining four assume it is Max. Their horror at Richie’s death turns to terror as the police share that the murderer wrote “nerdy prudes” on the wall. Of course, rather than assuming a ghost is after them or some other undead, they assume somebody knows and is going after them.
Panic goes through the town as the mayor pushes suspicion off himself and his daughter by suggesting it could be anyone. This is likely simply a power grab with “Hatchet Town” sending accusations through the cast. The rising tension somewhat shatters for the strange Barbecue Monologues interlude.
Though StarKid has a talent for strange segues and bouncing between moods, the strange tension lasts a beat too long. Ruth takes center stage, shifting into a solo. Lauren Lopez is a treat both in her character performances and her melodic voice, but it was a bit of a pace killer.
Shifting to Grace with the police, we get a short back and forth between her and Detective Shapiro. Their quick and smooth delivery of dialogue brings us back on track; however, as Grace makes her escape, we’re thrown to a reference to The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals joke, but StarKid knows their audience, revealing the hot cocoa guy from the earlier musical was Peter, faking out a second pace derailment into “If I Loved You.”
Grace arrives, bringing Peter and Steph out into the alley where she breaks down only for the mayor to arrive before Grace can turn herself in and give them time to escape. The mayor reveals that Grace’s stories about the Waylon place are true and that Max has come back from the grave. To stop Max, the remaining three must make a deal with the Lords in Black.
As they go over the five black altars, the settings of each prior installment is included: Lakeside Mall and CCRP Office Building (Black Friday) as well as the Starlight Theater (The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals). Waylon Hall and Hachetfield High, which are in this current musical, are on the list as well.
Summoning the Lords in Black, the stage goes dark, and anyone who watched Black Friday will recognize the voice that greets them as Wiggly, a.k.a. Wiggog Y’Wrath. The Lords of Black appear in a colorful madness.
The Lords in Black demand that Steph kills Peter in exchange for dealing with Max. Peter acknowledges that if he had to give up what he cherishes most would be Steph, so no matter what, one of them has to die. The fact that Grace ran with them, yet she is nowhere to be seen during this is rather frustrating, but when Max catches the bullet and stops Steph from killing Peter, she comes in swinging for the most hilarious seduction I’ve ever watched. Max’s confusion about whether to pound Peter or go to poundtown beneath the bleachers is masterful acting.
However, after getting what he has desired, Grace reveals that her chastity was what she cherished most, and that by giving it up to him, she has paid Wiggly’s price, banishing Max.
Flashing forward to the Homecoming, StarKid gives us the optimistic ending with “Best of You.” It has a very 90’s vibe, but anyone who has seen the rest of the series knew better than to assume the Lords in Black wouldn’t have more to say, and sure enough, Grace still has the black book. As the final song mounts, Grace’s guttural tones versus the chorus in the background resonates, ending on a haunting, “Darkness will spare my soul.”
Angela Giarratana sells Grace Chasity when the character could’ve easily become annoying and flat. Her prior work in Black Friday and on Smosh shows her broad range and comedic flare. She stole every scene she was in. The bath scene with Will Branner’s Magic Mike dance around her could’ve easily gone rogue, but Angela maintains the awkward religious nerd even as she gives into the fantasy.
Considering musical theatre nerds make up the whole cast, they don’t shy away from hitting every ‘genre’ of nerdy from weebs to the classics. So many fandoms get called out that Tumblr would get jealous.
During the preparations to scare Max, there is a throwaway comment about how Peter looks like the homeless man wandering around, who is revealed to be his brother tormented by Tinky (T’noy Karaxis), who is one of the Lords in Black. This is again referenced by Tinky himself when he talks about wanting a matching set of Spankoffski.
Most of the Lords in Black are featured in Nightmare Time stories, and though Pokey (Pokotho) is responsible for the hive mind which spreads in The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, we don’t see him there. To have all these villainous horrors gathered in one place is fantastic, and the way the actors bounce off each other to create the inhuman dynamic sells the terror all the more.
Final Score (4 out of 5 Stars)
While those who kept up with the full series will recognize some characters from Nightmare Time returning, Nerdy Prudes Must Die can stand alone; however, of the three main musicals in the series, it is the most reliant on prior media both in a few throw away jokes here and there as well as how much it builds on the Lords in Black mythos.
At times, the lighting fell a bit uneven, leading to strange shadows even in daytime scenes supposedly taking place in a lit school. While this works to set the mood, it makes it hard to see the actors’ faces.
“Cool As I Think I Am” stands out, especially thanks to the reprise, but the melody and key lines rise up in other songs and moments throughout the musical; however, “The Summoning” might be one of the best tonal shifts to underline the true inhuman horror that the Lords in Black are. Compared to the prior introduction of Wiggly in Black Friday, this version feels more intimidating as they playfully toy with the teens.
How do you think this latest installment stacked against the rest of the StarKid catalog? Was there a detail that you loved that we missed? Let us know in the comments below or go over to our Discord channel to join the conversation.
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Featured Image: StarKid Productions