A Review by Bill Garry.
The laughter starts the moment the first character steps on stage at "Alien vs. Musical," a clever mash-up of Broadway shows and Hollywood sci-fi now playing at the L.A. Fringe.
That character (I won't tell you who) is just the first example of spot-on costume and visual design talent. The show's amazing puppet creatures were designed by Steve Troop, the show's clever use of lighting (hand-held flashlights, mostly) and special effects are thanks to director Matthew Tyler and his team.
Mr. Tyler creatively wrangles the large (10-person) cast; the small Elephant Space stage just barely contains the bursting energy of the ensemble.
That ensemble is a collection of fresh L.A. musical theatre talent who give us their all. They take on multiple roles and puppeteering duties to tell the story of iconic Broadway characters being hunted by the (chest-bursting, Sigourney Weaver-era) Alien. Each character gets their turn center stage to sing a kind of reversal of their star-making anthem (Effie White of "Dreamgirls," sensing death is near, sings "I am going," a riff on "And I am telling you I am not going.")
These Broadway icons are shallowly written and rely a little too much on the audience's knowledge of the original shows. But two standouts -- Allie Costa and Rachel Tyler -- bring excellent vocal and acting chops to their roles as, respectively, Little Orphan Annie and Elphaba.
The one role that is not shallow -- the nasty alien Queen, believe it or not -- becomes a tour-de-force in the hands of Ms. Tyler. In the show's grand finale, Ms. Tyler out-Divas the Broadway characters in a hilarious number with dancing alien babies and corpses.
The book, by Erik Przytulski (who also wrote the music and lyrics) gets a lot of laughs by parodying Broadway archetypes. His songs -- with stolid melodies and heartfelt lyrics -- intentionally steer clear of "Forbidden Broadway" parody.
But as Maria Von Trapp (sugary Brianne Sanborn), who hilariously morphs into Ripley, sings, it all works out in the end.
ALIEN VS. MUSICAL
2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival
June 6, 11, 19, 25, & 28
6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA
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