Not a bad weekend at all. This past Saturday
night was spent at the theater (or do I say theatre? I always get mixed
up on that whole thing). That's right. You think I'm all sports and
network TV but there's a side of me that can appreciate the fine art of live theater.
ACTING as Jon Lovitz used to say.
I took in was full of thrills, chills, intrigue and romance. 7 people
are stranded on a deserted island. Castaways both in the literal and figurative
must first find themselves before they can truly be found. And perhaps even
the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. The fate of the world rests
firmly in the hands of Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his wife,
a movie star the Professor and Mary Ann HERE ON GILLIGAN'S ISLE!!!
Okay... so maybe not quite as dramatic as I would have you believe but it's still theater and I get high art points!
Plano's Rover Dramawerks reunites you with old friends
for "Gilligan's Island the Musical". When I first heard about
this, I thought maybe it was the stage version of an episode of the show I'd once
seen where the cast perform a musical version of Hamlet. While I LOVED that
episode, I was pleased to see a new (-ish) musical tale
involving our favorite castaways. (starts thinking
about the possibilities of LOST - The Musical)
I'm sorry! Got distracted there. While
I'd love to give a full review of the show, I'm simply not that great of a writer
so I'll keep it simple. The story could best be described as a bit of an
amalgamation of the most memorable moments from the TV show mixed with music mixed
with a looming alien threat.
The show opens with a bit of an "interpretive"
dance performed by the island's resident Headhunter (played by Zachary Haber)
and soon swings into familiar territory as the rest of the cast
sing us the Gilligan's Island theme we all know and love.
If you happen to be a newcomer to Gilligan's Island, no worries! The
purpose of most of the first act is to get the audience familiar with the characters
right before leaving us at a bit of a cliffhanger for intermission.
The second act focuses on the actual threat to the castaways and what they must
do to ensure they survive another day.
be tough acting in a play like this where the audience is soo
familiar with all of the characters. I mean, it's not like you really have
to dig deep to truly find a character like Gilligan but as an actor, you still
want to make the role your own. But you know you run the risk of the
audience turning on you if you don't give them "Bob Denver". My
heart goes out to these performers.
The production relied heavily on the chemistry (for lack of a better word)
between Coby Cathey and Michael
McNiel who played Gilligan and the Skipper respectively. Job well done, gentlemen. I was probably distracted by
McNiel's "fat suit" for about half a second
until I was won over by his performance. It was the middle of a classic
hammock bit (man, that sounds a little dirty) wonderfully staged by Director Carol
Rice where I found the line between Alan Hale Jr. and Michael McNiel had blurred
and it was just the Skipper I remembered soo fondly.
Donald C. Cook is just fantastic as Thurston Howell III but I just can't
imagine him being quite as good without Nancy Lamb there to play off of as
Lovey Howell. These two are soo
amazingly sweet with one another and you can't help but get the warm and fuzzies in the middle of their exclusive songs. Millionaires... sure. But you'll believe that they're
much richer with love. (I'm soo cheesy)
Heather Hill plays the role of Ginger, and dude, this girl BRINGS IT!!
Two days later, the only song that sticks out in my head is her belting out "Natural
Phenomenonnnnn!!" while trying to seduce Corey
Whaley as the Professor.
In this world of over-the-top personalities,
there's one character on Gilligan's Isle that is almost an anchor. Grounded...
a little more realistic, the show would just spiral into craziness without Mary Ann
played in this production by the lovely Heather McCormick. I was always more
of a Ginger guy growing up... but I'm pretty sure Miss McCormick changed my mind. You
might think it was the short shorts or the pig tails or the tied up top but I'll
tell you something.... okay... those are probably right BUT there was also
this sweetness and honesty she brought on stage that perfectly balanced the lunacy
of the characters around her.
Zachary Haber plays both a headhunter and an alien
visitor. One doesn't say much but has some BRILLIANT physical gags while
the other is the "antagonist" and bearer of almost ALL of the expository
dialogue. I'd have forgotten which character I was playing! Good work!
A beautiful set placed in a small, intimate acting space puts you right on
the beach with the characters. Unfortunately, there's a small 4 person band
in that small space with you too. Not that they were bad. They were
excellent, truth be told. It was just a little
bit of a struggle to hear the actors singing over the music at times.
I'll warn you that the play (much like this review) runs a little long.
But I think that's influenced more by my own familiarity of the show. Like
I said above, the first act is meant to set up the characters and the story for
those not familiar with "Gilligan's Island". Each character
(or couple in the Howell's case) gets an establishing song to serve as an introduction
or set up a sub-plot. Once that's done, the pacing really picks up and a
Gilligan adventure FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY is told.
I'll stop boring you with the details and tell ya
to check out Rover Dramawerks' website for more details at www.roverdramawerks.com