Zombies From The Beyond

(Or Becky Allen's Tits Misfire) A review by Patrick Shannon, III

by Patrick Shannon, III, www. CrescentCityChronicles.net

Zombies From The Beyond is a drippy, zippy, trippy musical play by James Valco. Mr. Valco did both music and lyrics to this parody about American ideals and foibles set during the Russian/American cold war era of 1955 when President Eisenhower made golf and paranoia the number one priority of the country. Flying saucers/UFO's were landing everywhere; and bomb shelters were being built in the backyards of Ozzie and Harriet houses all over the United States America.

Zombies opened in New York City at the Players Theatre in October 11, 1995, and it's another one of those laugh riot, song and dance, high camp "tabloid theatre" musicals like Bat Boy and the yet to be produced Dolly Parton's Breast Implants Leak During Vatican City Performance, or Priest's Head Explodes During Exorcism.

Zombies From The Beyond's plot is about what happens to the dopey people running a Milwaukee Space Center when a flying saucer lands and brings a buxom alien aviatrix to earth who needs to procure all of our male specimens or "he-specimens" to re-populate her planet.

Our local version produced with flair and a lot of talent by the fledgling company Artists Cooperative Theatre is another triumph of "controlled theatrical madcap fun" and just simple joy in the true sense of those early Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney "Hey! Let's put on a show!" concepts and that's exactly what this group of co-workers and neighbors and relatives have done. Their first successful foray into this land of la la was the well done and well received musical, The Fantastiks http://fantasticks.shows.it/ performed at the same venue, Ms. Helen Morgan's wonderful space in the Fine Arts Center at 1733 Constantinople Street http://www.thefineartscenter.com/.

These stage-struck friends and neighbors not only put on a fine show, they design and construct the sets and if they can't do the lead roles, they get someone who can. And the set were perfectly cartoon-like cardboard cutouts, and knocked together bits and pieces painted bright colors with the requisite blinking space station light bulbs, including a window through which we can see the landing of the neon pink, sequin studded, flying saucer as it bounced from the string on the visible pole from which it hung. A funny sight gag which gave the audience a big laugh.

All of the performances were absolutely wonderful. Roland "Butch" Caire, Jr. did a fine job as the handsome Major Malone in full military regalia, his right hand soldier, Rick Jones, was done by the handsome broad-shouldered Travis Resor. Matt Grau did the tap dancing delivery boy, Billy Krutzik with a flair for Gar Williams tap-dancing (some of you will know what I mean by this). And Jeff M. Poucher, once again got to wear his undies (as he did in The Rocky Horror Show http://therockyhorrorshow.tripod.com/) on stage as the charming, bumbling Dr. Trenton Corbett, whose job it is to build a ray gun which will destroy the alien. (He does, and it's shaped like a giant penis with two testicular handles which becomes another one of the musicals many hilarious sight gags.)

Also starring in this glittering cast of fine singers, dancers, and actors were the delightful Casey Leigh Thompson, as Charlene Osmanski, the sexy secretary in the space center who presented us with a wonderful Billy Holliday-type interpretation of her role; and Stacy Taliancich, as the Major's daughter - Mary Malone, who has a strong and vibrant singing voice and a great stage presence.

Bigger than life, Becky Allen, was Zombina the alien aviatrix (and would be male-napper) whose entrance was comparable to seeing an overly decorated Mardi Gras float suddenly appear on stage, sparkling with glittering objects and painted with enough makeup to add color to more that just one float but to an entire Carnival parade. And she was wonderful in this role which could have been written for Ms. Allen, our town's best living legend and tourist attraction. She's the essential spirit of New Orleans; and the new governor should use her as our ambassador of tourism. Becky Allen, as Zombina, stole every scene but the one in which her tits were supposed to burst into flames. They didn't. The props/special effect failed. But not Ms. Allen, she just scooped up her exaggerated Madonna-like tit coverings and made the flameless moment another hilarious sight gag.

But they all did and the excellent dancing was choreographed by Konni Sardi. "Butch" Caire, Jr., directed the show with all the zip, dip, and trip it required - creating an out of world experience that was tightly paced without a single dull black hole because they were all filled with bright sunny laughter.

The zippy music was performed by Shirlene Gill on piano, Alan Engle on accordion, and Brenda Castillo on drums/percussion.

The musical score was as good as a mini-Giancarlo Menotti pop-opera if he'd ever written while under the influence of psychedelic drugs.

Gwen Caire pulled together the neon pink wigs, silver mini-skirts and most of the metallic fabric and costume design for this outlandishly delightful little musical capturing a real 1950s glitz and tacky glam look which was delightful to see.

Zombies From The Beyond was a spectacular success and hopefully they will extend this performances so you can also enjoy an evening of real troupers doing a great version of tabloid theatre, another example of excellent high quality theatrical camp.

Please visit their web site http://zombiesfromthebeyond.tripod.com/ for pictures and information; and on my web site at http://www.crescentcitychronicles.net/REVIEWS/MUSICALS/ZOMBIES_FROM_THE_BEYOND/Zombies_From_The_Beyond_Pictures.htm and at http://www.crescentcitychronicles.net/REVIEWS/MUSICALS/ZOMBIES_FROM_THE_BEYOND/SATURDAY_OCTOBER_25_2003/Zombies_From_The_Beyond_Backstage_Pictures.htm.