This evening was quite the adventure! The first began with Elissa, Dayan, Linda and me attending the Carl Junction High School musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. I had never heard of this production, so what a treat to attend with my sister, daughter and grandson. I was promised a fun musical, and fun and quirky it was.
Return to the Forbidden Planet, written by Bob Carlton, is a Jukebox musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the 1950’s sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet. I had to look up the term, Jukebox musical. It refers to a stage or film musical that uses previously released popular songs as its musical score. This musical does, indeed, do that. Billed as Shakespeare’s forgotten rock and roll masterpiece, image a play with Shakespearian language, and dialogue adapted from well known passages from Shakespeare, plus an occasional Tolkien or Star Trek line thrown in for fun. Add energetic rock and roll classics, and a campy sci-fi set with lots of colorful costumes and silver shoes, and you’ve got this musical!
The story is told in two acts. The plot follows the crew of a survey flight under the command of Captain Tempest (Derek Meyer). When the ship encounters a meteor shower, the mysterious female Science Officer (Kathryn Martinez) abandons the ship in a space shuttle, leaving the larger spaceship to be drawn to the planet D’Illyria, where the crew meets the mad scientist, Dr. Prospero (Kevin Loar). The doctor is marooned on the planet with his daughter, Miranda (MacKenzie Covvey) and his robot Ariel (Scott Hardy), after being jettisoned into space years ago by his wife Gloria, who turns out to be the spaceship’s missing Science Officer.
Love and mayhem, secret formulas and space monsters follow. Miranda falls in love with the Captain. Cookie, the ship’s cook (played by Jacob Lietz) falls in love with Miranda. First Officer Bosun (Kayli Conrad) has a secret crush on Cookie. In the end we find out Gloria isn’t so bad after all. Dr. Prospero dies and the planet disintegrates with him, for the two are connected. And those who are in love find someone who reciprocates their feelings.
The musical score included Wipe Out, Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations, Monster Mash and Only the Lonely. It’s great fun when you can recognize and sing along with such well known classics. There was a small live band on stage, as part of the set, and they gave a marvelous performance as well.
This was a very well done production. I was amazed by the talent these high school kids have, singing, dancing, speaking Shakespeare, no less. While the whole cast was phenomenal, there were several stand out performances. Kevin, who so brilliantly played Dr. Prospero, has a powerful voice and perfect line delivery. From his white shaggy hair to his silver platform shoes, he had presence, and he commanded my attention when he was on the stage. Cookie, played by Jacob, had such range of voice in his musical numbers and an easy, graceful style. He smiled during most of his songs and as he delivered his lines and I found myself smiling back. Kathryn played dual roles and her voice was smooth and rich. When she sang out the first time, the audience gasped. I found it difficult to remember she is a high schooler. And lastly, Scott performed the role of Ariel, the robot. The tall, lanky actor, dressed head to toe in silver, sang, acted and danced wearing roller skates the whole time.
Our little group enjoyed the performance immensely, laughing and applauding often. I look forward to Carl Junction’s spring show. After a run through Sonic and goodbyes to Elissa and Dayan, Linda and I headed back to Joplin in her car. Our adventure wasn’t over yet! Just as we pulled onto Highway 171, a very busy road, even late at night, we had a flat tire. Another first! As many times as my sister and I have traveled together, we have never experienced car trouble. She pulled onto the shoulder and we discussed what to do. We were rescued. Carl Junction Police Officer Eimer came to our aid and with lights flashing on his police cruiser, directed traffic around us. And Greg drove from Joplin to change the tire after the tools that Linda had in the trunk were useless. We appreciated both men so much!
It was a great evening. The play was charming and fun. My grandson Dayan entertained us with pre-musical funnies of his own. (I promised not to blog about the content….but let me just say, I’m still laughing when I think about my grandson’s wit.) Elissa bought us treats at Sonic after the play. And two knights in shining armor rode in to rescue us distressed damsels who needed help. Laughter and a sense of adventure carried us wonderfully through the night. And I like that. All ended well.