Sunday, November 15, 2015

Flash! Ah-Ahhh!—StageWorks Ink—SW Portland

“It’s A Miracle”

This Rock & Roll parody of songs by Queen is adapted for the stage and directed by Steve Coker, with music by School of Rock and musical director James Liptak and Illya Torres-Garner and choreography by Jamie Langton.  It is performing at The Hostess, 538 SE Ash St., through November 21st.  For more info, go to their site at www.stageworksink.com


This musical has had more than one incarnation and a few cast changes over the past couple of years.  And the group itself is moving to the Clinton Street theatre next Spring, opening with a play adaptation from the film, Three Amigos (with Steve Martin).  Also, on the docket for Coker, is a rebirth of his original noir, horror, comedy-musical, The Adventures of Dex Dixon, the Paranormal Dick, songs co-written by KJ McElrath, at the Stumptown Stages next year.

There was a very campy movie with football star, Sam Jones, in the lead, a number of years ago.  There was also the serials from the 40’s with Buster Crabbe as our hero.  And some of us might remember the skin-flick of about 50 years ago called, Flesh Gordon (of course, I only saw it for research on Sci-Fi movies).  The play has things in common with The Rocky Horror Show, Mel Brook’s send-ups, and a washer on spin cycle.  It is a high-flying (without a net), highfalutin, hotwired, high-jinx menagerie of merry, misfits that will leave you in stitches.  And it has some extraordinary voices to top off this delightful treat!

As for any kind of story (which pales in comparison to the songs), it involves Flash Gordon (Illya Torres), a hunky athlete, being kidnapped, with his old squeeze, the delectable maiden, Dale Arden (Tasha Danner) and a semi-mad, scientist, Dr. Zarkov (Kristi Bogart), to the distant planet, Mongo, which is ruled by the despicable, Emperor Ming, the Merciless (Craig Fitzpatrick).  Ming’s goal is very simple, really, to destroy Earth and its inhabitants and rule the universe.

But complications arise when his daughter, the devious, Aura (Kara Hayes), falls for Flash, and Ming, of course, is smitten by Dale.  But the vain, Prince Barin (Sean Ryan Lamb) only has eyes for Aura himself (that is, when not admiring himself in his mirror).  The hawkish, Prince Vultan (Steve Coker), has eyes on Ming’s kingdom.  And a couple of Amazon-like warriors, the busty, Klytus (Landy Hite), and the naughty, Kala (Cyndi Rhoads), are out for their share of the pie, as well.  And, of course, there are always the minions, in this case a chorus of throw-backs comprised of the good citizens of Mong, Amanda Healy, Athena McElrath and Matthew Workman.

Throw in some hypnotism, wonder drugs, a wood beast, Bore Worms, a magic ring and a good, old-fashion sword fight and you’ve got all the elements for a rip-roarin’, swash-bucklin,’ rootin’-tootin,’ adventurous good time.  And the band, the School of Rock (Zach Holden, Max McCargar, Evan Shely, Connor Johnson and Otto Portzline), composed of all teens, really do Rock your socks off.  I doubt if there is any way to solve it in such a small space, but the band does drown out the lyrics of the singers at times.  Unfortunately, the songs, and singers associated with them, were not listed in the program, but know that there is not a weak voice in the cast.

Torres and Coker played two of the main roles in their last play and they are a great team together.  Both of them have powerful voices and have just the right amount of camp in their performances to keep you laughing.  Lamb is certainly one of the funniest characters in the play and his relationship with his mirror is positively indecent.  He also has a strong voice.  Hayes, as the wily princess, is someone you love to hate but has the voice and beauty to charm you.  Bogart is appropriately zany as the mad scientist, and the chorus, playing multiple roles, is quite a feat, as are Rhoads and Hite as women in power.

Danner has a voice that would blow the roof off the theatre, if allowed to be completely unleashed.  She is amazing and probably could be a concert star if she put her mind to it (and possibly is).  And Fitzpatrick (who I’ve reviewed before) is deliciously decadent as the evil ruler.  He has a comic timing about him that is spot on and his expressions are priceless.  He is so good he convinces you that you might actually want him to succeed.  Hopefully other theatre people, as well, will appreciate his talent and keep him working the arts.

A side note, if you are sitting more than a couple rows back, if the actors are seated for a number, you see only the tops of their heads and, if standing, you see them from the waist up, unless they’re at the back of the stage.  Putting higher risers in for the audience or raking the stage in some fashion would be a possible solution.

I recommend this show.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.