The merchandising bonanza known as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers morphed its way into the Universal Amphitheatre, kicking off a 65-city road show and leaving in its wake a cadre of martial-arts-simulating adolescents. Using pyrotechnics, video screens and audience participation, the Lycra-clad crime fighters delivered an ambitious stage show. But when all is said and done, the offering is little more than a tweaked-up tour attraction commonly found at theme parks.
None of the show’s shortcomings should prevent its profit partners from minting money on one of the most anticipated tours since the Eagles reunion.
Although parents may have left the venue scratching their heads in an effort to explain the hoopla, the screaming youngsters in attendance found much to praise.
Backed by a five-camera contingent projecting the onstage and prerecorded images onto huge stage-flanking video screens, the 75-minute show was a tightly choreographed and scripted foray into juvenile justice, where no actual blows are struck and good triumphs over evil.
Story centers around the attempts by Lord Zedd to destroy the Rangers by creating Lumitor, a half-tiger/half-fire menace that has super strengths and one weakness. Zedd succeeds in capturing a pair of the Rangers, who are used to lure the remaining contingent into Zedd’s den.
Comic relief is proffered by Zedd’s half-witted henchmen Baboo and Squat, with screeching one-liners and sight gags aimed at Rita Repulsa, an annoying and vengeful vixen who has previously failed to destroy the Rangers and endeavors to get back into Zedd’s good graces.
Repeated calls from the Rangers and their sidekick Alpha 5, urging the audience to chime the familiar “Go Go Power Rangers” mantra, grow tiresome by show’s end, as does the group’s frequent disappearing act through stage-apron doors.
A big-time bad guy is dispatched by the noise created by the audience, whose hand-held reflectors blind another mega-miscreant.
Parents are likely to find the calls for audience support reminiscent of “Peter Pan,” where their clapping saved Tinkerbell. But Mary Martin never had the special effects available to these dinosaurs-turned-do-gooders, with the use of flashpots, scrims and inflatables rivaling those in a Rolling Stones concert.
Lighting designer Roy Bennett aptly uses a blinding array of lights and lasers, while John Gaughan and crew work up illusions that add a touch of Siegfried & Roy.
Opening night was a benefit for DARE, the drug abuse resistance education program begun by the LAPD that has gone national.