Review by Danny Gaisin
Theatrical or musical replications can be covers; tributes; paraphrases; or parodies. BINBROOK LITTLE THEATRE’s newest effort is the Barron/Dyson caricature/spoof A Long Time Ago which is a hilariously funny take-off of Star Wars; “Star Trek”; Harry Potter; Elvis & ‘Big Bang Theory’. From the pre-curtain themes by Alex Courage (Star Trek) and the classic John Williams Star Wars melody, the audience knows we’re about to travel (fortunately) where ‘No man has gone before’! The intersecting plots deal are plagiarized from all those Royalty/Commoner tales (Princess Diaries; A Prince for Christmas; The Prince & Me, ‘Cinderella’ etc.) but with a galactic venue.
Then there’s a search for a magic lamp (Oops-Thermos® ); an interplanetary villain à la “Khan” and a delicious Elvis Impersonator as the Genie.
Directors Rob Blowey & Shirley Marshall have correctly decided to stage this effort purely for its comedic aspect, this having the cast incorporate audience participation…even to a short response rehearsal comprising the name of a certain Belgian Pilsener with 5% ABV. Alas, my muse did NOT appreciate my singing along with ‘The King’s familiar lyrics.
The pivotal character is ‘Stella’ and given the association with a certain Tennessee Williams play, she’s (actually He’s) got a distinct southern accent, and her family name is NOT ‘Kowalski’! Doug Caldwell is a beautiful, statuesque, voluptuous model of femininity and her (his) asides to the audience are accentuated with intense admonishing facial expressions that gleam guffaws every time the audience misses a cue. Stella owns the show. Her son is Deavon Powell who plays the love interest. His counter-tenor voice is unusual for a heroic role, but his sincerity and physical attributes mark a good role choice.
The Princess with her Leya earmuffs, is Abigail Charbonneau. She’s a Penny; Penny; Penny lookalike with the same smiley face and demeanour that’s made Kaley Cuoco such a big star. Charbonneau’s voice needs some professional training but she has that special something that audiences can respond to. This scribe opines that she consider a musical theatre education that leads to a successful career ( i.e. Brock or Sheridan). Her supposed mate is Adam Lopez who is decked out as a “Wesley Crusher”, even to the point of sporting a contemporary Wil Wheaton beard. His interpretation can even -at times – draw sympathy. Another B.B.T. Characterization is that arch-villain ‘Mange’ played by Kristopher Urech with a heavy ‘Professor Kripke lithsp that is regularly mocked by his delicious sidekicks ‘Knickers & Knockers’. Illyria Vocansek & Thomas Saker are a terrifically animated and energetic duo that occasionally play well together, when they’re not competing to steal the show.
Speaking of kiddies; there are two standouts in the chorus. Regan Saker & Raelee Steele are just about as cute a pair of young ladies as any commercial-shooting director would want to utilize as endorsers. Both are energetic, dynamic and continually showing a high-wattage smile and grinning with obvious delight to be performing on-stage.
There is full-effort from the support roles. King Quasar & his inebriated, Queen -Ursa; all the chorus member; and especially Andrea Chrysler whose Elvis is a hoot. He (she) even managed to overplay the Elvis-isms but I didn’t hear a ‘Thank-ya; thank-ya ver’ much” and kept expecting same.
The choreographic numbers need work and synchronization could use some more rehearsing. But for community theatre…it’s acceptable. I might also suggest that the house lights be turned on for the final audience sing-along; lyrics are printed on the 2nd last page of the program. A Long Time ago, to quote Spock may be ‘Highly Illogical’, but it’s certainly fun. Runs until Feb. 11th.