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Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park

by Harker Jones
Friday Feb 16, 2018
Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park

The "Unauthorized Musical Parody Of..." series has a recipe that always works: take a beloved film, break it down to its most basic parts, find ways to lovingly exploit them and then loop in pop songs that help propel the story. And it works every time. The energy and talent on display at Rockwell Table & Stage are oftentimes some of the best the L.A. theater community has to offer. And while taking on something as wild and ambitious as "Jurassic Park" seems destined for, if not a failure, at least disappointment, it doesn't seem to matter the grandness of the scope of a film because the "UMPO" camp can do just about anything.

Michael Crichton wrote the bestseller on which Steven Spielberg based his 1993 film adaptation, which went on to become a worldwide smash and spawned three sequels (with a fourth coming soon). The fantasy-thriller focuses on an island that is set to become a theme park with real-life dinosaurs cloned from DNA. When one of the creatures kills an employee, the park's owner John Hammond (Owain Rhys Davies) recruits three paleontologists, Alan Grant (Keir Kirkegaard), Ellie Sattler (Lesley McKinnell) and Ian Malcolm (Michael Thomas Grant, who is referred to solely as Goldblum since Jeff Goldblum, who played the role in the film, transcends every character he plays), to come in to oversee and do damage control. Of course, to our delight, things don't go according to plan.

Writer Kate Pazakis, who created the UMPO series and winningly plays the T.Rex, put together a creative, clever, silly and affectionate script. Music director Gregory Nabours kicks things off fittingly with Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" and segues into forgotten '80s gem "Walk the Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was) in a move as brilliant as having Hammond woo everyone to the island to the tune of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's" "Pure Imagination." Other punny songs include Hall and Oates' "Maneater" and Steppenwolf's classic "Born to Be Wild." The 4-person onstage band deftly veers from pop to ballads to musicals to rock without missing a beat.

How do you recreate a dinosaur in dinner theater, you may ask. The answer is: uproariously. The troupe makes no attempts at huge special effects, and that is the right choice. The over-the-top silliness is one of the key ingredients to these shows. The material is fondly mocked so what appears to be a dinosaur head mounted to a broom handle is the perfect way to represent what was groundbreaking (and Oscar-winning) effects at the time.

Director Nathan Moore assembled ace performers (as per usual) who have endless energy and presence. E.K. Dagenfield, who plays game warden Muldoon, lawyer Gennaro and computer programmer Newman have a commanding presence (and Newman looks great in short shorts that showcase his fantastic legs); McKinnell belts out a rousing and thrilling rendition of Pink's "What About Us"; and Michael Thomas Grant is the show's standout. He nails Goldblum's stuttering charm perfectly without sinking into mimicry. He can do anything: sing, dance, act and mug with the best of them.

While there is some adult language and content, "The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park" is mostly gentle fun that can be appropriate for kids 13 and up, depending upon their maturity. Be advised there is a two-item minimum per person on top of the price of the ticket, but for a fun night out, it's absolutely worth your hard-earned money.

" The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park " runs through April 28 at Rockwell Table and Stage, 1714 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. For tickets, go to Rockwell-LA.com.


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