Band: John Glen Bishop, Matt Davis, John Ritchie, Gary Goodman.
Writers David g. Smith and Mark W. Knowles have discovered that all Ed Wood’s memorable 1959 film “Plan 9 From Outer Space” really needed was song and dance numbers. Having supplied those to what is essentially Wood’s original script, the two have come up with a musical that’s terrifically appealing fun, staged and played well within the spirit of the original. It’s worthy of a long life, easily extendible to community and high school theater.
Musical is in a campy tradition that places it in such company as “The Real Live Brady Bunch,””Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Earlier versions of “Plan 9 — the Musical” were produced in Salt Lake City (!) in 1982, and Kansas City seven years later. The current run is said to be the Hollywood premiere. This production is (says Smith, who did the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book) played straighter than earlier versions, and has fewer songs.
The tuner, like the pic, is narrated by prognosticator Criswell (played by Knowles, who also directed). It’s the story of extraterrestrials who, failing to communicate with Earth’s leaders, begin to raise the dead into an army of zombies that will take over the planet (or something like that).
Romantic leads are pilot Jeff (John Zipperer) and his spunky wife, Paula (Jaye Maynard). Mark Perry plays the Ruler, whose other-worldly crew includes Eros (Mark Tracy) and Tanna (Leslie Esser).
Christian Mills limns Jeff’s co-pilot, and various police and military figures are portrayed by Dan E. Campbell, James Campbell, David Neilsen and Tony Reitano. Valerie Shoemaker takes on a variety of male and female characterizations, and Alice Amter slinks around as Vampira.
While the actors don’t necessarily resemble their film counterparts, the characterizations are uniformly good, and the replication of acting style (“wooden,” perhaps in tribute to the director) is consistently excellent.
The songs and vocal arrangements are quite good, with romantic ballads including “Star Guy” (sung by Esser) and Perry’s Elvis Presley parody (requisite in a late-’50s period musical) particularly strong.
Uncredited costumes are excellent. Show is certainly good enough to have a bright future, with one caveat: Putting extra money into the production isn’t likely to improve things any, and would certainly violate the spirit of Ed Wood himself.