Who’s Who

RUSS2Russell Blackwood
(Producing Director) produced and directed his first Grand Guignol horror play 23 years ago with his own adaptation of Andre deLorde’s shocker THE LABORATORY OF HALLUCINATIONS. That production led him to found Thrillpeddlers with his boyhood friend, Daniel Zilber. He’s produced and directed for Thrillpeddlers ever since. In 1999, the duo produced the first SHOCKTOBERFEST, Thrillpeddlers annual Grand Guignol spectacular. Four years later, Thrillpeddlers launched the research web site In 2004 Russell and his husband, Jim Toczyl, opened The Hypnodrome to be Thrillpeddlers home. Producing and directing further forays into the Grand Guignol as well as championing the theatrical genre of Theatre of The Ridiculous with productions Scrumbly Koldewyn’s four Cockettes musicals: PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI, HOT GREEKS, VICE PALACE and TINSEL TARTS IN A HOT COMA are other delightful milestones for Thrillpeddlers. Russell’s productions have played throughout the U.S. from New York City to Alaska, as well as England, Taiwan, and South Africa. Other directing credits include: OTELLO and CARMEN (Berkeley Opera); THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Lamplighters), EX-LOVERS, STRANGERS IN PARADOX, and WOMEN BEHIND BARS (Theatre Rhinoceros); CABARET and MEDEA (Shotgun Players); and productions for the S.F., L.A., and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals. He earned his BFA in Acting from Boston University.  Email Russ at

SCRUMBLEYScrumbly Koldewyn (Composer/Music Director) was a founding member of The Cockettes and composed many songs for Pearls Over Shanghai, Hot Greeks, Vice Palace and Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma. In the 1980s he performed and composed for The Distractions, and then for 25 years with The Jesters Vocal Trio, touring extensively in Europe. He composed for approximately 36 original theatrical productions, including the Jesters’ Singing Fools, and has been an accompanist/musical director and performer in theater and cabaret since the mid 1970s. Shows he created include The Untamed Stage (1920s Berlin Cabaret) in 1999 and Wilde Boys at NCTC in 2007 (BATCC awards for musical direction and best production–musical). Awards include the BATCC for original music (1981), two SF Bay Area Cabaret Gold Awards with the Jesters (’91 & ’92), and the Dean Goodman Choice Award 2000 for Cabaret performance (Goldfield & Koldewyn). Currently, he is also music director at Stagebridge in Oakland, and New Conservatory Theatre Center in SF. Thrillpeddlers’ revival of Mr. Koldewyn and Martin Worman’s musical Vice Palace received eight BATCC Award nominations and performed at NYC’s HOWL Festival. The 1972 musical Hot Greeks, also by Koldewyn and Worman, recently had its 40th anniversary production at Thrillpeddlers’ Hypnodrome.

JIMJim Toczyl (Shangri La) founded Thrillpeddlers Hypnodrome in 2004 with his partner Russell. His first role at the theatre was as an opium addict in the Grand Guignol thriller “The Drug” and now reprises his role as Shangri La, The Goddess of Opium in Pearls Over Shanghai.—so he must be doing something right. Other Cockettes musical credits include Athens Annie in both productions of Hot Greeks, Polo in Vice Palace, and Salvadore Deli in Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma.