Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Flash Ah-Ahhhh! (aka, Flash Gordon)—Stageworks ink at the Funhouse Lounge—SE Portland

A Fun Camp for “Camp”

This production is directed and written by Steve Coker, with the music from Queen, musical direction by K.J. McElrath and choreography by Jaime Langton.  The play runs through March 1st at their location at 2432 SE 11th Ave.  For more information go to www.stageworksink.com

The first thing you’d have to realize about this show, is that it is definitely not a traditional stage production.  It falls into the category of camp, parody, farce…and maybe all of them mushed together.  It is a high-flying, highfalutin, hotwired, handsome stew of high-jinx that will leave you applauding and laughing.  It is a combination of the Rocky Horror Show, the Red Skeleton TV variety show, and a Washer on spin cycle. 

There was a fairly awful movie of the TV serials, Flash Gordon, a number of years ago, with music by Queen, which may have inspired this show.  As for any kind of story, it involves Flash Gordon (Illya Torres) being kidnapped, with his old squeeze, Dale Arden (Tasha Danner) and a scientist, Dr. Zarkov (Jake Sauvageau) to the distant planet, Mongo, which is ruled by Ming the Merciless (Jonathan Hall).  His goal is very simple, really, to destroy Earth and rule the universe.

But complications arise when his daughter, Aura (Alexandra Blatt), falls for Flash, and Ming, of course, is smitten by Dale.  But Prince Barin (Brian Koch) has eyes for Aura himself.  And Prince Vultan has eyes for Ming’s kingdom.  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’ adventure.

But the plot is not the magic that holds this production together, it is the music, and McElrath and his team of the band, Mercury Rising, and some astounding singers, really do justice to the music and lyrics of Queen.  All the familiar tunes are there and everyone of the cast is exceptional in interpreting and singing the songs.  And they all fit the story very nicely.  Torres has a great look and voice for Flash.  His duel of music with Koch is terrific.  Blatt and Danner have a nice duet.  Hall and Sean Ryan Lamb have voices that seemed honed to sing Queen.

McElrath and Coker are a super-charged team on this one and it all works.  Langton’s dances in such a small space is quite inventive.  And Mercury Rising is a main element to the success of the show.  They have greatness in them.  And the rest of the cast all lend ample support and voice to this fun show.  My favorite of his plays, though, is still Dex… and hope they get a chance to revive that at some point.  So relax, have fun, laugh a little with them and be prepared to hear some great music.  I recommend this show.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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