It’s Fantastic but Possible! Unbelievable but Real!

This afternoon we joined with shutterbug93 and ellipticcurve to see the matinee performance of “It Came From Beyond“. This show is a sendup of all the 1950’s science fiction monster invasion horror moviews, and is wonderful. What’s the plot? Let’s see. LA Splash (which has a lot of great pictures) describes the story as “A nerdy high school bookworm discovers a sci-fi comic book that he thinks contains an awesome secret about life itself, and from there the 5-person cast shifts back and forth between their “real” high school world and the comic-book realm of flying saucers and terror-struck earthlings.” The production notes (quoted in the Playbill review of the New York production) describe the plot as follows:

“It Came From Beyond is set in the 1950s and tells the story of a group of high school kids who go mad for a new comic book called ‘It Came From Beyond.’ But is it just a comic book? Are secrets hidden inside this comic that can change the laws of science? When math wizard Harold sets out to crack the code, he finds himself in the fantasy world of Commie spies and creatures from outer space who threaten the American way of life. Joining Harold in this fight for freedom is the girl he has always longed for, the beautiful Becky. But she has fallen into the clutches of the high school bully Steve. Can Harold overcome his fear and discover the secret in time to save Becky and the world? Just when all appears to be lost, Harold realizes that he must be the hero!”

Me, I describe the plot as pure fun.

The production stars Kevin Earley (production photos) as Harold/The Professor, Heather Marie Marsden as Becky, Todd Fournier as Steve, Stephen Breithaupt at Mr. Fielding/The Colonel, and Ali Spuck as Miss Benson/Jayne. It was written by Cornell Christianson, with music and lyrics by Norman Thalheimer and Stephen Michael Schwartz. Christianson and Thalheimer are known for their new musical Wicked City Blues; Stephen Michael Schwartz is well known for being a member of Parachute Express, doing the music for Jay Jay the Jet Plane, and being a member of Temple Beth Hillel.

This was clearly a musical where everyone is having fun. You can see it in the actors: they just enjoy doing this. I’d single one out, but they were all equally excellent! The writing is witty, and clearly was meant to appeal to all (there are lots of little nuances that went by too fast to catch). The music is upbeat; I only noticed one song that smacked of Parachute Express (“Daddy’s Girl”). I also noticed how clever the lyrics were. . I’m looking forward to a CD.

What didn’t I like? The background music is prerecorded given the size of the venue, and the actors are miked (which I didn’t think was necessary, but it could be testing for the DVD they are recording this evening). If this moves to a larger venue (and it should, with the same cast), it will need some restaging to bring in real musicians and background singers. I think it could be successful in a larger house with the right restaging.

So, if you get a chance, go see it. You’ll really enjoy it.

What’s next on the show calendar. The next ticketed show is “As You Like It” at the Pasadena Playhouse in April. I’m also keeping my eye out for tickets for “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at the Santa Clarita Rep East, “Oklahoma” at the Canyon Theatre Guild, and “Barnum” at the NoHoArts Center.

[Crossposted to cahwyguy and socal_theatre]