Thursday, April 29, 2010

Starmites An Intergalactic Musical – Music and Lyrics by Barry Keating – Book by Stuart Ross & Barry Keating

By Joe Straw

It’s been a long time since I’ve had so much fun in the theatre.  Just the thought of letting “it all go”, sit back, and be entertained.   I came with no preconceived idea of the show or what it was all about and I have to say its has been awhile since I’ve been totally surprised seeing something this enjoyable.    

Starmites, An Intergalactic Musical, was a dramatic revelation of a show from start to finish.  The musical was completely polished and wonderful from beginning to end. The audience loved it, the songs were delightful, the voices were strong, and the characters were amazing. And there were puppets galore! 

This is a show to bring all kids ages 6 to 66. And it’s all here presented by the Ensemble Theatre Company (etc) in Santa Monica at the Miles Memorial Playhouse through May 9th 2010. 

Brilliantly directed and choreographed by Steve Edlund and produced by Parmer Fuller & Narcissa Vanderlip.

This story takes us to a land, not very far from here.  Lonely Eleanor (Natalie Storrs) sits on the floor in her room reading her comic book Starmites and wishing she were a superhero girl.  Unbeknownst to her, she awakens a powerful force in the universe, Shak Graa (Matthew McFarland). (That’s what you get for hard wishful thinking.)

The darker side, her mother (Jen Reiter) barges into the room and wants the comic books out of the house! (You would think that some moms just get it, but no.)  She thinks Eleanor’s fantasy life is taking her on a path toward lonely desperation.   Little does she realize that her sweet cuddly daughter has a power awakening in her being and those powers are unfolding dramatic events in the universe.  

Namely, the Starmites lead by Space Punk (Donald Webber, Jr.), Herbie Harrison (Michael Joyce), Ack Ack Ackerman (Thomas Krottinger), and Dazzle Razzledorf (Jonah Priour) zip to earth and discover Eleanor has the power to save them and the universe. They whisk her away to another galaxies to find “The Cruelty”, a powerful musical instrument before it falls into the hands of Shak Graa.  

And in inner space there is a wonderful number “Afraid of the Dark” which takes Eleanor and the Starmites on an unforgettable journey.  This number, very imaginative, seems to propel the entire musical into intergalactic space. 

But, in the confusion and in the dark the Starmites are run off by the attack of The Banshees, a quartet of hungry man-eating puppets. Maligna (Marisa Esposito), Shotzi (Riana Nelson), Canibelle (Jessica Perlman), and Balbraka (Raquel Sandler), all with incredible voices and voracious appetites for men. They are lead by Diva (also Jen Reiter) in a great hip swinging number It’s hard to be a Diva! 

Diva has a daughter Bizarbara (also Natalie Storrs) and as all mothers do, wants her married and out of the house!  She has plans of getting her married to Space Punk. (I suppose if you were desperate you would give your daughter to a guy with the name Space Punk, seriously.)

But Space Punk is not so bad and besides he’s off somewhere falling in love with Eleanor as each professes their love in a wonderful number Love Duet.

Neverthless, all is not happy in Loveville.  The Diva and the Banshees capture Space Punk.  The Diva uses her intergalactic force to pawn off her daughter to Space Punk.  Space Punk agrees then changes his mind and I’ll say no more.

Everyone gets his or her chance to showcase his or her vocal prowess and each succeeds magnificently. Webber as Space Punk was magnificent as was Storrs. The Banshees were a powerful team and each has a moment in the sun (castle) Esposito, Nelson, Perlman and Sandler all gave outstanding performances.

Reiter as Diva was remarkable.  Her Diva hips sashaying her around the stage using her Diva hair and Diva lips for punk-u-ation all in the matter of controlling the universe and her daughter. 

The Starmites Joyce, Krottinger, Priour each had their moments on stage and aside from all the chest banging in the first number showed a piazza during the course of the show. McFarland is quite funny as Shak Graa.

Musical Director Michael Alfera did a tremendous job as well as his band mates Chris Myers and Chris Payne, and they also had a lot of talent to play along with.

Jessica Dalva created the wonderful puppets on stage - an amazing artist in her own right.

Lili Fuller, costumer Designer, has everyone in intergalactic costumes.  The space stockings were quite nice; the jump suits a little less not nice.

Edlund, the director, has done a wonderful job.  The set makes it almost impossible to see they are in the various places in the program with the exception of the bedroom; innerspace, Shriekwood Forest, Great Hall of Castle Nemesis, Castle Mortuary and the Chamber of Psychosorcery, but this is only a small quibble.  And why quibble?

This show had a long history of getting to Broadway but it did in 1989, and was nominated on 6 Tony awards.

My six year old said she could not get the musical out of her head the next morning.  A true testament to a great show!           

Live longer, think clearer, go see this show and have some intergalactic ridiculous fun!

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