Saturday, May 12, 2018

SOLO MUST DIE: A Musical Parody Book by Jordan and Ari Stidham Music and Lyrics by Hughie Stone Fish and Ari Stidham

L - R Hughie Stone Fish, Jordan Stidham, Ari Stidham - Photos by Aaron Tocchi

By Joe Straw

Hugh (John Ryan) has a highly active imagination as he waits for his friend, who is always late, Colm (Jordan R. Coleman).  The purpose of the meeting is for Colm to read his script - a musical parody of the movie Star Wars.

But when Colm arrives late he is not too interested, says he doesn’t read English, and really wants no part of it until he does. After all, Colm implies he’s done it, read it, heard it, and smelled the Star War stories inside out, outside in.  There’s nothing much left in the genre. 

Sitting and reading the script Colm doesn’t see the light, feel the action, or hear the John Williams music.  

But, that doesn’t deter Hugh.  Not one bit as Colm is handed the script and characters suddenly appear on stage.

Grand Moff Levine (Ari Stidham) loves to break the fourth wall and interact with the audience mostly urging them on to applaud his being onstage. (A little less of this would work.) Grand Moff Levine is the good guy or likes to think of himself that way.  

(This Moff is a healthier version than the pale; sickly looking Peter Cushing who played him in the films.)

Grand Moff Levine is the protagonist, but how good can you be when you want to kill Han Solo (Jordan Stidham) who has just crash-landed on the planet in Cloud City?

Well you sit down, or something, talk to your second wife Galaxia (Selorm Kploanyi) and your daughter Annie (Kaitlyn Tanimoto) and come up with a plan to rid the galaxy of Han Solo in order to gain favor from the dark side of the force.  

Jordan Stidham, Keenan Montgomery

Han, in another location, needs a place to crash (pun intended) and he meets with Lando (Keenan Montgomery) to see if he can hang at his pad while he gets the Millennium Falcon together.  Lando says okay and goes to sleep, cape flowing behind as he escapes to his bedroom.

Meanwhile everyone wants something from Han, and Han, with time management issues, wants to cram his life with adventures, every single moment until the end, until Han Solo is dead, dead, dead.  

SOLO MUST DIE: A Musical Parody book by Jordan & Ari Stidham, Music & Lyrics by Hughie Stone Fish & Ari Stidham, and Directed by Ari Stidham through May 27th, 2018 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard on theatre row in Hollywood.  

“Solo…” is a musical parody and in that aspect one must have a familiarity to the films to get most of the jokes but it is not a necessity.  The music by Hughie Stone Fish is enjoyable, keeps the night moving at light speed, and overall the show is entertaining from top to bottom.  

Tevyn Cole keeps the night lively with his choreography that is enjoyable and manages to give light to the parody.

Ari Stidham, director, co-writer, stagehand, makeup artist, and as Grand Moff Levine has a lot on his plate, but seems to be having the time of his life. (One would suggest that he wear a belt to keep things up nice and tidy.)  One get’s the mustache, but not the beard for this character.  Grand Moff Levine has his reason for wanting Han dead and he moves in that direction for the most part. A parody is something that accentuates a trait of a character to an extraordinary degree and one is not sure how this is a Grand Moff parody. Also, the show needs a better ending.

Jordan Stidham, Co-Writer, and plays Han Solo takes a while to get used to but then manages to capture the night in wig and song. Stidham has a charm and is funny throughout the night. If adventure is what Han wants, Stidham should be searching and finding creative ways to find it every moment he is on stage.

Alex Lewis plays a number of characters Greedo, Kylo Ren, Postmate and others and has a nice presence on stage and manages to keep the action moving with those characters.

Jordan R. Coleman does some nice work as Colm, mostly stage right with expressive facial expressions.  It is difficult to determine what Colm’s objective is in the manner he is dismissive of his friend’s work. Coleman also plays Rogue One Leia.

Luke hasn’t got much to do played by Sean Draper in this musical parody mostly because he is not the lead in a musical that is called “Solo Must Die”. He also plays the real Darth Vader (not the one with a bucket over his head) and Priest.

Zach Green plays Jabba The Hut and as strong as the character is on film, I don’t remember the parody of this particular character.  Possibly, more needs to be added.

Cooper Karn has a very nice look and presence as Chewbacca and a definitive charm on stage.

Selorm Kploanyi is exceptional as Galaxia.  She is an excellent actor with a wonderful voice and also a character that needs more time on stage, and one more song preferably a solo that highlights her voice.  The lipstick was space age and wonderful.

Keenan Montgomery as Lando is smooth.  The character Lando is a shade seedier than Solo and is ambiguous enough for the audience to never get a handle on what he wants.  Lando would sell his mother for a cracker and a nice slice of Brie. There is much to like in Montgomery’s performance and in his singing voice.  

John Ryan is rather impish as Hugh, a character who thinks like the thousands living in Hollywood today that think they have created the next Star Wars.  His beliefs are bigger than his imagination and we never get a final resolution to the character as Ryan also hops into the C3P0 and J. J. Binks roles.

Kaitlyn Tanimoto is enjoyable as Annie, Grand Moff’s daughter, who is never satisfied with her life or the things that her father is trying to accomplish. (A typical daughter).  Tanimoto is enjoyable as an actor and singer.

Selorm Kploanyi, Ari Stidham

Michelle Wicklas has a strong presence on stage and is a trouper when it comes to operating BB8 (A white ball with duct tape and a pasta sieve).  She also plays Smart House and Yoda.  But, whenever she is on stage her craft is prevalent and the force is strong with this one.  

There is no credit for costumes but the costumes were just enough to give flavor to the characters on stage.

Steven Brandon, Producer, Ashley Tavares, Co-Producer, and Alex Lewis, Co-Producer give life and support to a large cast and musical accompaniment to the singers on stage.

Jimmy McCammon was the Tech Director/Stage Manager. Nora Feldman was Public Relations.

While there is really no one particular song by Hughie Stone Fish that a person sings on the way out of the theatre all is not lost. (Cats only had one song.) The singers are remarkable, personable, and give strength to the genre and that’s more than half the battle.

The Act One Finale parodies Les Misérables and was wonderful.

B - L to R - Michelle Wicklas, Alex Lewis, Cooper Karn, Sean Draper, 
F - Jordan Stidham, Keenan Montgomery

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