A Trapeze-Infused 1950’s Robot Monster Movie Musical of Epic Proportions!
Book and Songs by Emily Schwartz
Directed by Bob Kruse
Produced by The Strange Tree Group
Lost in Space.
I was excited to see this production because I have heard great things about The Strange Tree Group, and this seemed like a piece of theatre I would not see anywhere else. My excitement was heightened when I entered a lobby with “build your own robot” legos, and active concession stand complete with throwback bottles of Coca-Cola, and a very talented band playing tunes from the 50’s. I was like a kid in a candy store as authentic intermission cartoons paraded across the screen. I believe The Strange Tree Group possesses a lot of imagination and promise, but this production was not a total success.
Hey! Mr. Spaceman! Deconstructs the 1950’s horror flick by juxtaposing teens at a drive-in movie watching a film, and the characters from the film eventually invading their lives. I got nervous when the first ten minutes consisted of sitting in a dark room watching a “sci-fi” movie that was too self-aware to be funny, and kept going long after making its point. The teens fall into the stereotypes; the pretty girl who wants meaning in a relationship, the shallow guy on a date with the ugly girl as a favor, and the tough as nails chick out with the sensitive geek. However, these characters are more complicated than meets the eye, and they use song to express their inner angst. The music is fun but forgettable, and the choreography uninspiring. The exceptions being the finale and when the Snack Jerk steps out of the Snack Shack to lament his inner desires.
Hey! Mr. Spaceman! has great potential, but ultimately wanders to nowhere. It takes nearly an hour before any real conflict develops, which is not good in an 80-minute play. This may have been easier to endure in the play was not laden with snail slow pace. The play boasts to be “trapeze-infused”, but there is nothing thrilling or original about the two moments.
However, this play is not a complete lost cause. I must credit the ensemble to truly committing to the fun (albeit hokey) style, resulting in everyone acting in the same play. The design team created a nice atmosphere complete with a drive-in movie setting, and the lighting and use of projection nicely established mood. If you are into sci-fi, and/or parody this could be an enjoyable night out. Otherwise, wait for the next production by The Strange Tree Group. I will be back based on the potential I saw in this production.
Reviewed by Chris Arnold
Hey! Mr. Spaceman! plays at The Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter, Chicago IL 60642. Tickets are $20, and Thursdays are $15 Industry Nights (with headshot/resume) at the door or call 773-598-8240 for ticket questions or availability. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7 pm.