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The Rep introduces a raucous sci-fi rock

Arts

Posted: August 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2014 2:00 a.m.

"Return to the Forbidden Planet" at the Repertory East Playhouse on Main Street in Old Town Newhall. Courtesy photo

 

Most theatre goers have heard of 1989’s Miss Saigon, the Vietnam-era spin on Madame Butterfly by the creators of Les Miserables. But when the winner of that year’s Olivier Award (London’s version of the Tony’s) was announced, the winner was Return to the Forbidden Planet, which enjoys a striking new stage revival at the Repertory East

Playhouse on Main Street in Old Town Newhall through August 16.

So what is Return to the Forbidden Planet? And why did it make Miss Saigon’s company so miserable 25 years ago?
Return is based on the classic science fiction movie The Forbidden Planet, which single-handedly created the Star Trek space exploration genre in 1956.

The plot: Chisel-jawed Captain Tempest leads his starship crew to rescue a mad scientist and his nubile daughter marooned on the planet D’Ilyria. This sets off two hours of iconic phaser-gun battles, robot sarcasms, young love and dire metaphysical hyperbole.

Return is a wildly silly, guitar-riffing rock ‘n roll musical comedy that leads its lucky audience into boppin’ along to such 50s-thru-70s standards as Good Vibrations, Great Balls of Fire, Wipeout, Teenager in Love, Young Girl, Oh Pretty Woman, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Gloria, It’s a Man’s World and Born to be Wild – all with an ‘80’s flair!

“This was one of the best Rep productions I’ve seen: a combination of live on-stage music, great singing, actors who are just having fun with their roles and a spectacular set. Rep is having fun here, and that fun is shared with the audience,” said Daniel P. Faigan for blog California Highways. “It begins when you enter the theatre and hit the bar — which was serving ‘Tempest in a Tumbler’. It continued when you entered the auditorium and saw the spaceship set.”

Rick Pratt directs a strong rock comedy ensemble, lead by Benjamin Patrick Thomas as Captain Tempest, with Mike Davies as mad scientist Prospero and European pop singer Alina Bock as the scientist’s daughter Miranda.

Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m., now through August 16. Tickets are available by phone at 661-288-0000 and online at The-Rep.org.

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