THESE “SPACE WARS” WILL TOUCH YOUR HEART
Aboard the starship Mustang Galley, (from left) Princess Layla, Shuey, Duke Starfighter and the android MP3PO help bring "Space Wars" to life.

When you think about it, if Ella Fitzgerald had married Darth Vader her name would be Ella Vader!

If that thought makes you laugh, head quickly to Gaslight Theater, where the sci-fi loving gang has put together a galactic-level production of “Space Wars,” written and directed by Peter Van Slyke.

Hyper-humor to match the hyper-drive of this interstellar adventure makes the free popcorn pop on everyone's table as the celebratory references to George Lucas' iconic opus keep rolling.

The best part is knowing that Gaslight Theatre loves the whole “Star Wars” mystique and would never consider ridiculing any part of it.

For example, spunky WD-40 is the spittin' image of his android cousin on the big screen, R2D2, all white and stubby, rolling around while spouting the same unspeakable vocabulary of high-pitched tones.

But the real scene-stealer, just like he was in Spielberg's first film, is the towering hirsute hero known simply as Shuey, howling out his emotions.

All the other elements you would expect to be there, are there. The Force that gives these Galactic Knights their inner strength, the humming laser swords, green-faced Yoga's backwards syntax, Princess Layla's twin-bun hairdo – and lots more.

All the roles are double cast. Jake Chapman was Shuey the night I went. Janee Page played Layla, leader of the Stellar Union. Gaslight newcomer Christopher Younggren donned the black helmet and intimidating breathing apparatus of Darth Vader. Making his verbs do all the work from back at the end of every sentence was Jacob Brown as Yoga.

The actual plot is a bit of a mash-up of favorite moments from a few films of the eponymous series. One of the most effective is the early sequence when that hologram call for help is received from Princess Leia, er, Princess Layla.

My personal favorite from the first movie, the nightclub scene with all manner of outer space travelers, is in there. There is the second-hand space ship that's reluctant to start, the instant deep-freeze treatment by sinister forces and of course the iconic moment when Duke Skyfighter (Mike Yarema) learns the identity of his father.

The musical tribute numbers include “Oh What A Night,” “Don't Stop Believin',” “Spirit in the Sky” and “Baby Hold On To Me.”

The aftershow Olio turns to the Disney corporation for inspiration, presenting sketches to frame songs from several of Disney's favorite movies.

No movie titles are mentioned but you will immediately recognize the Little Mermaid. All manner of aquatic creatures join in singing “Under the Sea.”

Back on land, David Orley in his best bear outfit sings “The Bare Necessities.” There is a medley of songs with snowmen and an ice queen. Then comes a very bouncy “Hakuna Matata.” Blasting back from the past is “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifrag....(you know the rest),” ending with the evergreen “Beauty and the Beast.”

The show continues through August 30 with performances at various times Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are $18.50 general admission; $16.50 students, seniors and active duty military; $8.50 children 12 and under. Tickets are not sold online. For details and reservations, call 520-886-9428.




 


FLAT STANLEY GOES THREE-DIMENSIONAL
All Together Theatre's cast brings the classic story of Flat Stanley (center) on stage in  prime time at Live Theatre Workshop.

"The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” puts the emphasis on music in this playful production from All Together Theater, the children's theater side of Live Theatre Workshop.

If the name Flat Stanley doesn't ring a bell, well, let's just say Flat has been a favorite of the under-10 set since 1964. A quick check of the internet confirms Flat's popularity is a national phenomenon.

He comes to us in many forms. This stage play was written by Timothy Allen McDonald and Jonathan K. Waller, with music composed by those two plus David Weinstein and Stephen Gabriel, as an original presentation by Work Light Productions.

All of which means every aspect of the show is very professional. ATT's local cast directed by LTW's own Stephen Frankenfield includes Chris Bohlman, Michael Martinez, Amanda Gremel, Richard Gremel and Cyndi LaFrese.

Bright colors and imaginative costumes fill the action. All the actors play several roles, except Bohlman who specializes in playing Stanley Lambchop, the 10-year-old boy who gets flattened one night when the bulletin board beside his bed accidentally falls on him – leaving him flatter than the cardboard in those neatly folded dress shirts from the clothing store.

Of course a bulletin board couldn't flatten anybody, that's part of the magic that makes this show so delightful. It is not only kid friendly, it is parent friendly as well, written with cleverness rather than silliness.

The basic idea is that Stanley wants to be someone famous and have great adventures. He feels very frustrated. When he wakes up that morning to find himself completely flat, he's a little dismayed but adjusts pretty quickly.

Through a series of events he realizes he can slip into an envelop and be mailed any place in the world. It is a wonderful means of travel, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service, so before you can say “Is that a forever stamp?” Stanley is at the Louvre museum in Paris where he helps capture an art thief.

(See...because Stanley is flat, he can be hung on the wall like a painting, and scream for the police when the art thief comes in.)

This and other adventures catch the attention of a Hollywood movie producer, the same guy who met no-name Robert Roundpants and turned him into Spongebob Squarepants.

Of course Stanley does discover becoming famous doesn't mean anything if your friends and family aren't there to enjoy it with you, so Stanley turns his back on fame and heads for his own happy ending.


Each performance lasts one  hour

Performances are

Fridays June 26 & July 3 at 7:00PM

Saturday and Sunday matinees June 27, 28 & July 4 & 5 at 1:00PM


Tickets: $9 for kids, $12 for adults


To make your reservation call (520) 327-4242

For more information go to http://www.livetheatreworkshop.org/shows/att.html

LIVE THEATRE WORKSHOP * 5317 E. Speedway * Tucson, AZ 85712