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.

The show 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!!!

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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)

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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.

It's gotta 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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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I'll stop boring you with the details and tell ya to check out Rover Dramawerks' website for more details at www.roverdramawerks.com