Cthulhu: The Musical Cometh to Garden City 

Josh Gross has made a habit of appending the words "the musical" to his utterances. One day, while discussing horror author H.P. Lovecraft, he landed on "Cthulhu: The Musical." Heads turned, and a musical puppet show based on the concept emerged from the ether.

"It's pure gold for musical comedy," he said.

Gross and his team, Puppeteers For Fears, will bring Cthulhu: The Musical to the Visual Arts Collective on Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30. In it, a creepy statue worshiped by a cult is Detective John LaGrasse's only lead in his search for a missing man, and the case is leading him "out to sea, and towards insanity. But you know, with singing puppets," according to the play description.

As a former Boise Weekly writer and editor; one of the early participants in HomeGrown Theatre's Horrific Puppet Affair series; and a musician and author—his latest visit to the City of Trees was in support of a book about his father—Gross has a reputation in Boise as a media jack-of-all-trades, but the story of Puppeteers for Fears hails from his hometown of Ashland, Oregon, where, during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he encountered an actor who studied puppetry in college. She and Gross enlisted some friends to put on a show so successful they were able to take it on the road.

"There's this urge to redo properties that have been done to death," he said, acknowledging the ascendent popularity of Lovecraft's fiction.

Puppeteers for Fears' elaborate props have been newsworthy novelties in Oregon, and the show has gotten some national recognition, notably on Syfy.com. Initially, Gross expected the puppets to be makeshift and sketchy, and was stunned when the company's props designer rolled out large, detailed designs.

Much of the inspiration for the show comes from Gross' experience with HPA, and he described HomeGrown Theatre and Puppeteers For Fears as "cousins" and "peers." The production doesn't shy away from entertainment for seasoned viewers.

"There are things you can say with puppets that you can't say with regular actors," he said. "You can give them really strange dialogue and have them break the fourth wall in a way that's really fun."

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