The Pokémusical

by Shane  Scott
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Sep 11, 2013
Heather Ensley as Misty, Seth Salsbury as Ash and Kelsey Schulte as Pikachu
Heather Ensley as Misty, Seth Salsbury as Ash and Kelsey Schulte as Pikachu  (Source:Lyssa Samuel)

A boy sleeps soundly on his bed when a pink-robed woman with a cigarette in one hand and a Coors in the other yells, "ASH! Get your lazy ass out of bed!" This is the beginning of the young hero, Ash Ketchum's journey into a world of Pokemon that that might seem a little different than the one you remember witnessing 15 years ago.

Ash along with, Brock, Misty, Professor Oak, Pikachu, Team Rocket and an onslaught of other lovable Pokemon characters have been transported from an innocent 1990's television and Nintendo favorite into "The Pokemusical," a live-action musical parody filled with adult situations and comical parallels that are sure to have anyone who had any interest in pocket monsters both laughing and feeling a warm tingle of nostalgia.

Having made its way from Ohio last spring, Alex Syiek's "The Pokemusical" has continued to pick up steam, premiering in their sold out run at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer, after which it was awarded "Best Fringe Festival Musical" at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Awards Ceremony. The quirky heartfelt satire made its short return to Los Angeles on Sept. 6 at the Elephant Space of Theatre Asylum, where it will run through the end of the month.

While "The Pokemusical" takes plenty of artistic liberty with the Japanese franchise, twisting wholesome characters, like Ash's mom, into a busty, chain-smoking boozehound, and Ash into a power hungry zealot, there's a level of charming authenticity that remains constant through the performance.

Kelsey Schulte as Pikachu had little dialogue other than the repetition of her own name, but had her own deeply philosophical, Shakespearean style monologues that discoursed the reality of man’s exploitation of the fuzzy pocket monsters.

One of the most unexpected twists comes in the form of Kelsey Schulte as Pikachu. As expected, the character that had little dialogue other than the repetition of her own name peppered throughout the performance, the electric yellow rodent actually had her own deeply philosophical, Shakespearean style monologues that discoursed the reality of man's exploitation of the fuzzy pocket monsters.

Considering that Kelsey dressed in yellow ears and black tights and doused her competitors with a 'thunder shock' supplement of silly string, the costumes might seem a bit corny, but keeping in mind this is a comedy, it only compliments the show -- along with cardboard cutouts of additional Pokemon favorites like Squirtle and Charmander, which subsequently reveals its "flamethrower" technique through the lighter of one of the 'Ensemblists.'

A continuity that really keeps the show alive transpires right behind the actors for the entire musical -- a guy playing a drum set with a kick drum painted to look like a giant Pokeball, and a girl on her keyboard, busting out every beat in the Pokemon arsenal, from battle songs to route one walking medleys.

The instruments were also a great compliment to the voice of Josey Montana McCoy (Ash) who sang a number of solos including an ode to his apathetic mother, "You Made Me Strong," and an awkwardly innocent recollection of his father molesting him, "Ash's Lullaby." There's even a symphony of jigglypuffs that sing their own rendition of Pachelbel's "Cannon." A collaboration of pleasant voices, comical lyrics and catchy tunes make the musical portion of the show a hit.

If you're at all familiar with the '90s childhood classic animated series, you're sure to get a laugh out of this clever alternate Pokemon world. Come with an open mind, no expectations, and a thirst to catch them all.

"The Pokémusical" runs through Sept. 28 at Theatre Asylum-The Elephant Space, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. For information or tickets, call 323-802-4990 or visit colorandlighttheatre.org.

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