Surreal musical to take off
By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN, Times Staff Writer
It's part Shakespeare, part campy movie, part rock 'n' roll: put it together and it's Return to the Forbidden Planet, this year's musical production by River Ridge drama students.
It's also the first drama department musical to be directed by the school's new drama teacher, David O'Hara, an award-winning professional theater director in the Tampa Bay area for 15 years.
Very loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and more closely on the 1956 sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet, Return to the Forbidden Planet takes place in 2009.
For the music, playwright Bob Carlton integrated into the plot such rock classics as Good Vibrations, A Teenager in Love, Young Girl, Shake, Rattle and Roll, Oh, Pretty Woman and Great Balls of Fire. The show opened in London in 1989, where it won the Laurence Olivier Award for best musical in 1990.
The show starts as Captain Tempest (Derek King) is piloting a routine flight of his spaceship, the Intergalactic Starship Albatross. The ship runs into an asteroid storm and is damaged. In a huff because the captain won't follow her suggestions how to repair the ship, the ship's science officer (Kendra Stout), a woman with a mysterious past, jumps into the ship's shuttle and takes off, sending the ship off course.
It's pulled toward the planet D'llyria, where it crash lands.
As the crew tries to make repairs, a strange-looking man wanders up. Captain Tempest recognizes him as the mad scientist Prospero (Darrell Huling), who had disappeared from Earth 15 years ago.
Prospero tells them that he had distilled a drug in his laboratory, called the X-Factor, that had infuriated his wife, Gloria. She was so angry, she tricked him into boarding an old shuttlecraft and catapulted him into space, not knowing that their baby Miranda (Alison Caffrey) was a stowaway.
Miranda, now 16, arrives at the wrecked starship and immediately falls in love with Captain Tempest. The captain returns her affections until he realizes how young she is, whereupon he rejects her, causing her to wail, "Why am I a teenager in love?"
Things become complicated when the ship's cook -- named Cookie (Brandon Wane), of course -- falls hopelessly in love with Miranda.
The situation becomes even more complicated when Prospero drinks some X-Factor and begins to hallucinate and his sidekick, the robot Ariel (Carmen "Yama" Cabanellas) has eaten the formula for the drug, so Prospero can't figure out how to counteract it.
But, in good Shakespeare and sci-fi form, it all works out in the end, but only after a lot of mixups, mishaps and excitement.
The faculty classic rock band, Knight Sounds, will provide music for the show's 16-member cast. Assistant directors are Brandy Rupp and James Geiger, with Dakoma White as stage manager.
WHAT: Return to the Forbidden Planet
WHERE: Center for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey
WHEN: 7 p.m. April 25; 2 and 7 p.m. April 26
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