TRI-SCI-FI: A CHILLOGY
nytheatre.com review by Gregg Bellon
"Lost and Drifting," sings Rod (Stewart Gregory), the cadet, in
Part Three of Adair Productions’ Tri-Sci-Fi: A Chillogy. And
Rod… I second that emotion! Composer Edmund Cionek and
lyricists Albert Evans, Patti Wyss, and Dennis Deal (who also
directs) present this post-modern trinity of new musical works,
all linked through the theme of science fiction embodied by the
ubiquitous lyric, "walk on into futurity." Whether quoting
directly from Thoreau’s Walden, sampling snippets of Ed
Wood, Jr’s dialogue, or genetically splicing Star Trek
with Gilligan’s Island, this group succeeds most in their
cleverness, ambitious, and musicality, but unfortunately
underachieves on stage, notwithstanding some wonderful
August 15, 2003
The opening piece, "Henry David Thoreau: One Step Beyond," presents Thoreau’s Walden through the paradigm of alien-abduction phenomenon. Henrietta Davidson (Patti Wyss), an alien-abduction victim, theorizes that Walden contains the classic "7 Signs of Alien-Abduction." Meanwhile, Torrie Henry (Margaret Dorn), "1960’s Greenwich Village composer," pens her own Walden-as-alien-abduction treatise as a Dada-esque avant-garde musical. Monte Wheeler gracefully succeeds in realizing the satirical Thoreau with a booming baritone and comedic timing to match, but overall, this first piece fails to deliver.
Next comes "Ed Wood, Jr: The Sinister Urge" based on the eponymous movie director and his stable of rejects, both human and celluloid. Adding Cionek on synthesizer and Paul Cohen on saxophone, the orchestrations finally come to life and showcase some of the finest grooves of the entire evening. Monte Wheeler as Wood and Christi Moore-Leslie as Dolores Fuller shine with fine voices and comedic conviction. The stand-out number of the evening, "Angora," rings out with all the fervor and ecstasy that Wood himself reserved for the long-fibered rabbit hair. Glimpses of the ingenuity and cleverness of the creative team peek through, teasing us during this second act.
The final piece is "SPACE: an Opera in Capsule Form." Presumably set in the 1960’s during the space race and resplendent with Cold War allusions, "SPACE" does little more than allow Paul Cohen to flex his baritone sax chops. Director Dennis Deal appears as The Captain, a Shatner-esque drunk, on a cosmic journey with Vera (Margaret Dorn), "a beautiful scientist," and Rod (Stewart Gregory), "a space cadet." While I commend Gregory for some fine comedic moments of his own, his work is little consolation for the overall feel of either "SPACE" or Tri-Sci-Fi as a whole.
Cionek and his collaborators certainly keep the comedy and levity at the forefront. But with the director also performing in two of the three pieces, I wonder how much this limited the vision and execution of the program in its entirety.