Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Return to the Forbidden Planet at Centerstage

By Alec Clayton
Published in The News Tribune, March 21, 2018
Captain Tempest (Jimmi Cook) and Miranda (Helen Roundhill) , photo by Michelle Smith-Lewis
The Forbidden Planet meets Shakespeare meets Rocky Horror on stage at Centerstage in Federal Way, so be ready to rock and roll with the bard.
Return to the Forbidden Planet by Bob Carlton is a campy musical spoof on space exploration shows based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with rock and roll music from, mostly, the 1950s and ’60s.
On a set patterned after the bridge of “Star Trek’s” Enterprise, Captain Tempest (Jimmi Cook) and his science officer, Gloria (Olivia Lee), argue about the importance of men and women on earth to the tune of the James Brown hit “It’s a Man’s World.” When the ship gets hit with a meteor shower, the science officer escapes and the space ship is drawn to the planet D'Illyria, where they meet the mad scientist Dr. Prospero (Mark Waldstein) who comes onboard with his daughter, Miranda (Helen Roundhill) and his robot Ariel (Fune Tautala).
Madness ensues. The ship’s cook, Cookie (Nick Hyett-Schnell) falls madly in love with Miranda, and Miranda falls just as madly in love with Captain Tempest. This love triangle is hilariously played out to rock and roll with Miranda pining away to “Teenager in Love” while the Captain tries not so successfully to hold her at arm’s length with “Young Girl (get out of my mind)” and Cookie tops it off with a marvelous rendition of “She’s Not There,” on which he plays a knockout guitar solo.
The science officer returns followed by a giant green monster that looks like a mushroom jellyfish octopus bug, and Dr. Prospero takes the experimental drug he’s invented called Formula X, which is supposed to enhance brain power, and Cookie steals Formula X, but Ariel steals it from him — and in true Shakespearean fashion, all’s well that ends well, which is more fun than other Shakespearean endings in which everybody dies.
The show is cram-packed with quotes not only from The Tempest but from Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and other Shakespeare plays, plus jokes on popular space movies, much of which are so ridiculous they’re funny, such as when the entire crew flashes the Vulcan hand sign and says, “Love well and Prosper-O,” and when Star Trek’s tribbles make brief appearances.
Captain Tempest is a cross between Captain Kirk from the original “Star Trek” and Fabio. He’s a muscular hunk who keeps preening and posing and tossing his long hair. The science officer is a tall and statuesque woman with pointy Vulcan ears, and Prospero’s hair and glasses make him look like a cross between Groucho Marx and Einstein. The singing and acting from all is superb.
As if all this madness were not enough, the theater gives out audience-participation bags and encourages the audience to join in the fun by following cues on the shipboard computer. Also on the computer screen is narration by a surprise celebrity whose identity I won’t divulge but who avid South Sound theatergoers will recognize.
Finally, I must mention a handful of the other great songs in the show, including “Shake Rattle and Roll,” “Only the Lonely,” “Born to be Wild,” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
Director Taylor Davis and her cast do a great job of bringing outrageous music and fun to Centerstage. Even people who do not normally like camp will be swept up by this one.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, through March 31
WHERE: Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way
TICKETS: $29 adults, $25, Seniors (65+) and Military: $15; Youth (18-25): $12 17 and younger
INFORMATION: (253) 661-1444,

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