World Premiere of Bina’s Six Apples at The Children’s Theatre Company.

Photos by Glen Stubbe Photography

Bina’s Six Apples is a play that from every aspect could be opening just as easily at the Guthrie theater as the Children’s Theatre Company. I say that as praise and a caution. This is a work that adults will find engaging and thought provoking. It does not play down to an audience of children. The recommended age for the show is nine years old and up, and I think it’s important for you to follow those guidelines. In addition, as a parent of a child who had sensory issues growing up, I would also caution that there are loud noises. In particular there a sequence of an extended tone that simulates the ringing in ones ears after an explosion. There is also a rather intense scene of a woman cruelly frightening a young girl. These are not criticisms of the content, simply a heads up to parents so you can make an informed decision as you best know what your children can handle.

Bina’s Six Apples, a new play written by Lloyd Suh that is having it’s world Premiere at the Children’s Theatre Company. Suh was inspired by stories of his father and his family during the Korean War. Bina is a young girl growing up on her family’s apple orchard in 1950. Her family must flee as the war is coming closer, they need to journey on foot to Busan in the far southwest corner of Korea. Each family must carry what they can, Bina’s job is to carry six apples, all that she can fit in her backpack and her pocket. Early in the journey a bomb is dropped near the family and in the chaos Bina is separated from her family. The rest of the play follows Bina as she tries to get to Busan on her own with her six apples. While this is a story set during the Korean war, it functions for today’s audiences as an empathy gateway. Through Bina’s struggles we can gain a better understanding of what it must be like for the millions of people all over the world who have been displaced by conflicts or natural disasters. That’s a great jumping off point for parents and their kids discussion on the way home.

The cast is led by young Olivia Lampert who plays Bina, an amazing feat for someone so young. She has to play a range of emotions throughout and carry us along on this journey, which she absolutely does. There are six other members of the cast five of them play the members of her family and then also take on the roles of other people she meets on her journey. Two of the standouts were Shelli Delgado who plays among other roles a mother she meets along the way who is looking for her daughter. She is brutal to Bina in what must be a challenging role. Like this performance Elizabeth Pan plays Bina’s grandmother who also does not enact the childrens play version of a weary old woman. Both women play these roles very realistic and it adds to the impact and power of these sequences.

Director Eric Ting does some clever things in staging the show. As the family begins their journey we see them cross the stages slowly almost frozen in place as Bina stops and interacts with one set the others are almost frozen then she moves back like she is walking along a line of hikers conveying the sense that they were all still moving forward. The scenic and lighting designer Jiyoun Chang has created a set that continues to change, enlarge and reveal new surprises throughout the performance. It’s top notch work, minimalist yet simply elaborate greatly accented by lighting design, that at times echos reality and others blasts us with a broad burst to create an emotional punctuation.

Bina’s Six Apples is a powerful play about a specific moment in history through which we can all better understand the plights of our fellow human beings in today’s world. It is also a story of a young person persevering through a difficult journey, about learning responsibility, facing difficult things, and the importance of compassion. You really don’t need to have children to enjoy this play, perhaps the downside of it being performed at the Children’s Theatre Company is people will think of it as a play for young people. In fact, it’s a play that has multigenerational appeal. I hope it finds an audience with older theatregoers as well. Bina’s Six Apples runs through February 13th for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://childrenstheatre.org/whats-on/binas-six-apples/.

[Title of Show] Explores Artistic Creation at Lyric Arts in Anoka

Photo by Molly Weibel, 1000 Words Photography

[Title of Show] is the “in joke” version of a musical. It will play like gangbusters for theater nerds, actors, anyone involved in the creative process of musical theatre. For those not in that circle, I suggest you read through the resources Lyric Arts has put together here https://www.lyricarts.org/what-audiences-should-know-title-of-show. With that under your belt you’ll feel like you are in on the joke. Not a big reader? you’ll probably still have a good time. This is the ultimate meta musical. It’s a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical.

The music and lyrics were written by Jeff Bowen with book by Hunter Bell. Originally written in 3 weeks to be submitted to the New York Musical Theatre Festival but was later expanded and revised as it went from being accepted to the festival, then to Off Broadway and on to Broadway. The version currently being performed in Anoka is the Broadway version. This version tells the story of Jeff and Hunter who write a musical in three weeks to submit to the New York Musical Theatre Festival. They decide their musical will be about writing a musical to submit to the New york Musical Theatre Festival. Their musical is accepted and performed, then they work on revising it for Off Broadway and finally they make it to Broadway. It’s an autobiographical show written as it happened. The other two main characters are Heidi and Susan, two actor friends who help put on the show. It was interesting to read that the original cast for the New York Musical Theatre Festival remained the same Off Broadway, Broadway, and the national tour. The cast was Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Heidi Blickenstaff, and Susan Blackwell. There was also a video blog called The [Title of Show] Show, which you’ll see the reason for during the show.

The show is directed by Jake Sung-Guk Sullivan with music direction by Bradley Beahen who is the fifth member of the cast playing Larry who is the on stage Keyboardist. The role of Larry was played in the original production by Larry Pressgrove who was the arranger and musical director. Sullivan does a nice job of the staging the the action. I particularly liked the use of flashlights during the song “Change It, Don’t change It/Awkward Photo Shoot. The handling of the photo shoot was also well staged and included one of my favorite moments for the Larry character. He doesn’t get many lines, but each one is rewarded with a laugh. I also really enjoyed the set by scenic designer Cory Skold it plays on the characters love of theatre, which is evident by all the references their dialogue and songs contain. The four main performers are Bradley Johnson as Jeff, Alice McGlave as Heidi, Lux Mortenson as Susan, and Brendan Nelson Finn as Hunter. All four do a great job with each having their moments to shine. Johnson’s Jeff plays the gay straight man to Finn’s more outrageous Hunter who gets the line when being told not to masturbate and work on the script. “Are you saying I’m a procastubater?”

The strength of the show is it’s idea and it’s script. It’s a really interesting idea and it’s history and evolution is as interesting as this end product. The songs are where the show falters a bit. They are all enjoyable while they are happening but many of them don’t really feel like songs so much as signing dialogue, but that dialogue is very entertaining. There were a couple of songs that really stood out “Die, Vampire, Die!” and “A Way Back to Then”. What’s interesting about the show is that it isn’t all fun and insider jokes, as they struggle with taking the show to the next stages, there are clashes and bad behavior. Which just reinforces the truth of this show, creating can be fun and wonderful and fulfilling, it can also be hard work and draining. Collaboration sometimes results in disagreement and those are not always handled with laughs and songs.

[Title of Show] is an interesting dive into the act of creation full of theatre references that will challenge even the biggest theatre nerds. I needed that resource list for quite a few of the references. For me this was a welcome return to form for Lyric Arts. This is one of my favorite Stages in MN if you haven’t been there yet, this is a good show to correct that. The show runs through February 6th for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.lyricarts.org/title-of-show

Come From Away Will Move You Like No Other Can at the Orpheum Theatre

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It was approximately 7:38 PM on opening night of Come From Away at the Orpheum Theatre. Eight minutes into the show and I began to cry. As I sit down to write this review it’s 11:00 PM, an hour and a half since the show ended and the tears have just about stopped coming now. Don’t take that wrong, this is not a dark show, though it deals with one of the darkest hours in my lifetime. It isn’t a sad show, though many of the tears are of loss. Most of the tears are happy tears. The tears that come to us when we recognize the inherent good in our fellow man. When we see people at their best, pulling together to help one another. The tears that well up and overflow when we are overcome by the coming together of a community. The show runs around one hour and 40 minutes and you are going to spend much of it either laughing or crying…or both. You expect to be wiped out after an evening like that. But it is the kind of emotion that uplifts you rather than drains you. Come From Away is simply one of the most emotionally invigorating musicals I’ve ever experienced. I should feel drained, but I feel renewed.

Come From Away is the musical written by Irene Sankoff & David Hein based on the true events of Sept 11th 2001 and the days following. After two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and another crashed into the Pentagon, all air travel was grounded and the airspace above the US was closed. All airplanes inbound were diverted to the nearest airfield outside the US. Thus 38 airplanes carrying about 7,000 passengers found themselves stranded in the small town of Gander on the Island of Newfoundland. This small town and its neighboring towns took in these 7,000 passengers from all over the world, fed them, gave them shelter, clothed them, and made them honorary Newfoundlanders. The show does what must always be done with stories about something as large as 9/11, it focuses on a specific aspect and a smaller group of people. This approach allows us to comprehend the incomprehensible, by taking a huge event and bringing it down to a personal level. We get to know key members of the community, passengers, and the pilot of one of the planes and through them we see this moment in history from a new perspective. The overall focus of the play is on the community coming together and caring for these stranded people. Relying heavily on humor that seems very Newfoundlandish but also very Minnesotan. While the play doesn’t dwell on the tragedy of 9/11 and the negative reactions that came from it, it also doesn’t ignore them. And those aspects are definitely responsible for their fair share of those ever present teardrops.

Come From Away is an important work of art, but it doesn’t feel like it should be. A lighter more energetic musical it would be hard to find. The show moves with a pace and humor of a broad comedy. It is a testament not only to the writing but the direction by Christopher Ashley that while the show barrels ahead from one witty lyric to the next, that with all the joy we are feeling, we are also constantly aware of 9/11. In some ways it reopens a wound that I felt had long ago healed over. But in doing so it also begins to heal that wound again at the same time. This is a tightrope walk I can’t really wrap my head around. It’s at once life affirming, joyous, funny, and moving while also reminding us of a tragedy that changed our world, that shocked and saddened us to our very cores. Yet these disparate elements are not at war with each other, they live organically intertwined, as if the one wouldn’t work without the other.

It’s hard to single out the cast, they are all fantastic. It’s refreshing to see a cast filled with such talent, that look like they could really be the characters they are portraying rather than impossibly perfect looking people playing regular folks. They all take on multiple characters between the townsfolk and the passengers on the planes I’m sure every cast member plays at least four different roles. Yet, I was never confused at who anyone was playing on stage at anytime. I do want to give a shout out to MN native Becky Gulsvig. A friend informed me she is from Moorhead, right across the river from where we grew up in Fargo, while younger than we are, I’m told she played the lead in some Trollwood productions back in the day so I’m sure I probably saw her years ago in something. Always fun to see someone from home making it big. Here she is playing Beverly an airplane pilot, one of a handful of roles that gets a little more playtime then most of the others. She’s very good as is Kevin Carolan who plays the Mayor of Gander. In terms of the songs, it’s odd, I loved the music, though many of the songs seem to be very similar to each other. Most of them seem to just be musical accompaniment to the singing of the dialogue. There are several songs that do stand out in a more traditional sense such as the opening “Welcome to the Rock” and “Me and the Sky” which is beautifully performed by Ms. Gulsvig. I also really like “Stop the World” which is a love song duet performed by Chamblee Ferguson and Christine Toy Johnson. And before we leave the music, it must be noted that the musicians and the instruments they utilize are perfectly minimal. After the cast curtain call the musicians get their own and it was great to see them so into it and to get a little moment to highlight their talents. There is a nice celtic aspect to some of the music and the mandolin, Whistle, Fiddle, and Bodhran are perfect to bring that out.

Come From Away runs through January 23rd at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://hennepintheatretrust.org/broadway/ .While it does deal inherently with a very real world tragedy it is ultimately about people helping each other and being their best selves. This is a theme we could do with more of. I think the more people who see this show the more of that we’ll see out in the world. Don’t let the subject matter put you off this or limit who attends, this show is appropriate for anyone 12 and up. I think it’s a great show for a family to go together to see as it can lead to some very good conversations afterwards and it’s modeling excellent citizenship.

Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy from Minnesota Dance Theatre is a Gorgeousity of a Production

Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy is a variation on The Nutcracker Ballet performed to the classic score by Tchaikovsky. The basis for which is a short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann. Probably most peoples introduction to ballet is some version of The Nutcracker, whether it be from a segment on TV, a film version, or the live experience. It’s a timeless tale of a little girl Marie, her Godfather Drosselmayer, and the dream she has that her Nutcracker toy has come to life. After a Christmas party at her home, Marie falls asleep under the tree. Drosselmayer, the toymaker and wizard awakens her in a dream where her Nutcracker and his toy soldiers defeat the Rat Queen and her army after a fierce battle. After her Nutcracker has transformed into a Prince they travel with her Godfather Drosselmayer through the the Kingdom of Jam and the Land of Marzipan Sweets to the Castle of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s highly encouraged to read through the full plot synopsis in the program before it begins so that you will have some idea what is happening. But really, the key is not to get hung up on the details of what is happening but to sit back and let the beautifully performed score, exquisite dancing, and sumptuous visuals wash over you.

As soon as the lights go down we know we are in good hands with the 44-piece Nutcracker Orchestra conducted by Philip Brunelle. There is something about a full orchestra that brings out the full power and beauty of classical compositions. No CD or MP3 file can compare with being in the room with the orchestra as they perform Tchaikovsky’s masterwork. I am not a orchestral music connoisseur by any means, there are few pieces I can recognize by ear. But The famous “Nutcracker Suite” is certainly one of those I can. Going all the way back to what I am sure was my first exposure in Walt Disney’s Fantasia which I can remember seeing in the theatre in 1977 as a young lad. My new favorite from the show is “Scene XIV – Pas De Deux: Dance of the Prince & the Sugar-Plum Fairy” I cannot place it, but I have recently heard some piece of music that was clearly inspired by this segment. It’s a subtly romantic movement wonderfully performed by Philip Brunelle’s Orchestra.

I do not know enough about dance to write intelligently about it. Nor can words do justice to the beauty and eloquence of this dance company. All I can tell you is that I was enchanted by what I saw and amazed at the athleticism of these dancers. It isn’t just the dancers in the three or four lead roles you can identify, there has to be about three dozen dancers in this production. I’d like to single several of them out, but it is difficult, because it isn’t clear who they all are. Dario Mejia as Godfather Drosselmayer is a standout, as is Lily Scott as Marie. Another favorite with the entire audience was the dancer performing as the windup toy, unfortunately I cannot determine who that was from the program. But again, it would be impossible even if you could determine who was who to single everyone deserving out as this is certainly a dance company in top form from the oldest to the tiny little kids who play the mice.

Classical music may not be your jam, and watching Ballet dancing might not be your idea of a fun evening. But when those two are performed so superbly and then combined with the amazing set designs, lighting, and costumes it’s really hard to imagine anyone leaving the theatre not in awe of what they just experienced. Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy is the perfect gateway to nurturing an interest and appreciation in dance and classical music. There’s always something wonderful to hear or see. I was really impressed with the set designs and lighting work. The sets are by James Gunther, Bruce Allen, Tim Burton, Margaret Allen, John Clark Donahue (Snow Scene), and Laura Hohenshelt (Nuremberg and Pink Ball). They work beautifully in conjunction with the Lighting Designer Michael Murnane efforts. Though I will say that for all the spectacle and creativity with which the show opens with Drosselmayer’s Toyshop and the Parlor at the Christmas party, Act two is a little sparse in terms of new reveals. What keeps amazing from scene to scene though are the costumes by Costume Designers Judith Cooper, Sarah DeMers (Snow Corps de Ballet), Kari Holmberg (Snow Soloist Tutus), Kathy Johnson (Comedia), Nancy Pohl (Cavalier Jackets), Vanessa Lopez (Divertissement III), and Katie Danielle Johnson or Robyn Peterson (Sugar Plum Tutus). The mouse costumes I have to give a shout out too, as they were just the most fabulous little costumes and they were worn by what must be the youngest members of the cast with the tiniest little legs dancing around in them, adorable.

Minnesota Dance Theatre has been presenting Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy for decades. For many attending this is already a tradition, it’s certainly going to become one for me. Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy an enchanting evening or music and dance with production design and costumes that create a neverending whirlwind of new wonders to behold with every scene. The production runs through December 22nd at the State Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis. For tickets click here Nutcracker Fantasy

The Longest Night is a Celebration of the Winter Solstice at Open Eye Theatre

Sonja Thompson and Bradley Greenwald Photo by Bruce Silcox

As the program notes state, it’s “Not a concert, and not a play, The Longest Night is a meditation”, a very apt description for this program. Rather than a narrative or just a series of songs, this is an exploration of what the Winter Solstice is from scientific explanations to what it ultimately represents to the human condition. Weaving poetry and music, Bradley Greenwald has given us a unique and rewarding experience. The sources range from pop to classical, humorous to dark, narrative to abstract. Featuring a wealth of writers and composers such as Carole King, Sting, Ogden Nash, Joseph Campbell, Tom Jones, Margaret Atwood, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hart and Rodgers, and even Johann Sebastian Bach. After a humorous original “welcome” by Greenwald to music by Harvey Schmidt, the evening begins with the specific. The scientific data which explains what the Solstice is and why it occurs. From there we are taken from the specific to the broader interpretation of what early man thought of the shortening days. Throughout the production it’s a blending of the specific with the abstract and we go from a song about Amber and her Uncle to meditations of darkness.

Open eye theatre is an intimate setting and the combination of piano and single voice with a smattering of Baritone Horn thrown in is the perfect balance for the room. Greenwald has a rich baritone voice which he employs equally well in song and recitation of the poems. Containing within his voice the ability to embody an impish humor while also bringing the gravitas required of a couple of the more dramatic pieces. He has also compiled and constructed the various works into such a way that they flow effortlessly into one another. During one section, the reading of a poem actually created a sense memory of being out in the cold while sitting in a comfortably cozy theatre. Then bringing us back into the warm with a well placed humorous song. Thompson cleary a very talented musician effortlessly supports Greenwald finding the perfect timing to help transition into the next selection.

The benefit of a show like this, whatever your tastes are there is likely something for you. Nothing last so long as to outstay it’s welcome and for most attendees, including me, everything will work. My favorite single section was the song “The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams. A humorous song that moved me unexpectedly, as it touched on family and differences in beliefs, finding the common ground and focusing on that. I loved the variety the different ways to look at and explore this idea of winter and the longest night. Dealing with topics as far ranging as mythology, celebrations and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Ending with a discussion of why so many cultures throughout history have based celebrations around this time. It finishes on a note of optimism that is sorely needed every year at this time and perhaps these last few years more than ever.

The Longest Night runs a little over an hour making it a very manageable weeknight show. It plays through the actual Winter Solstice December 21st at Open Eye theatre in Minneapolis for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.openeyetheatre.org/the-longest-night

Anastasia Delivers the Spectacle at the Orpheum

Kyla Stone as Anya Photo by Jeremy Daniel

I saw the the 1997 animated film of Anastasia in the movie theatre at the time of its release but to be honest, I remember very little about it. Not surprising as I haven’t seen it in nearly 25 years. This Broadway musical differs from the Disney model of animated films transferred to the stage in that, while yes it has its origins in the animated film, it really only uses that as a springboard on which they have built of mostly original work. They kept about six of the songs from the film and have added about twenty new songs. I remember the film had Rasputin in it, but the stage show has removed him as the antagonist. All that’s by way of saying, don’t come expecting the film transported to the stage, come open to a new telling of the legend of a lost princess of the Russian Empire. But whether you are a fan of the animated film or the earlier film starring Ingrid Bergman or not, you’ll probably have a great night at the theatre with this charming musical.

All of these stories are based on the story of Anna Anderson a mentally ill woman who claimed to be Anastasia. She wasn’t but those rumors persisted and thus we have these fantasies. In this version we see a young Anastasia and her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, at their last meeting. Anastasia is her grandmother’s favorite and she is given a music box as a parting gift. The Dowager Empress is leaving for Paris and talks to her granddaughter about seeing her therein the future. That visit is never meant to be, prevented by the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Where it is thought that the Czar and all of his children were executed. But rumors begin that the princess Anastasia survived and her Grandmother has offered a reward if she is reunited with her in Paris. Two con men Vlad, who was once at court before the fall of the empire, and the young and handsome Dmitry cook up a plan to find a young woman they can pass off as Anastasia. They team up with a young amnesiac named Anya who is being drawn to Paris by memories she cannot quite recover. As Dmitry and Vlad begin to drill her on the facts of the Romanovs, they are surprised by the things she says that they hadn’t told her yet. As our trio heads off to Paris they must elude the new Russia personified by General Gleb. Glebs father as it turns out, was one of the soldiers who executed the Romanovs and his orders from above are to finish his father’s work. Along the way Dmitry begins to fall in love with Anya and also believes she really is the lost princess. But as Vlad points out, if the Dowager Empress believes she is Anastasia, Dmitry will never be able to see her again.

The cast does an excellent job with the songs and there are a lot of them. I frequently have a little trouble at the Orpheum understanding the lyrics, but that wasn’t the case tonight at all. The cast and the orchestra were perfectly balanced and all the performers sang with perfect clarity. Sam McLellan as Dmitry and Kyla Stone as Anya sell the burgeoning love of their characters particularly in the song “In a Crowd of Thousands”. Vlad played by Bryan Seastrom and his love interest Countess Lily who is the Dowager Empress’ lady in waiting played by Madeline Raube, have a great little song together “the Countess and the Common Man”. Raube in particular in that and in the preceding song “Land of Yesterday” shines with a great voice and the ability to play the humor in the lyrics as well. The strongest voice and performer in the cast though was Brandon Delgado as Gleb. He plays the villian, but a conflicted one who believes in his cause but also secretly loves Anya himself. He gets a great moment towards the end of Act I with the song “Still”.

The true star of this show though is the Projection Design by Aaron Rhyne. The set is basically some panels on which projections create the majority of the set. There was a three to four minute stretch at the beginning of the show when it looked like there was a technical malfunction happening. I was worried the show was going to be marred by red laser beams breaking through the backgrounds. But that cleared up and from then on the effects were really superb. I’m usually a little disappointed when I see a production is going to rely heavily of projection for it’s set design. I like my sets practical for the most part, but this show did an amazing job with it’s digital design. In fact, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing in the beginning until the technical glitch revealed the truth. The perspective graphics that come up at times are truly mind blowing. Anastasia’s book is by Theater Hall of Famer Terrence McNally with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music Stephen Flaherty.

The show is marketed as if it’s another Frozen, but this isn’t for little kids. Older kids I’d say 12 and above depending on their interest level would probably enjoy it. The younger ones are going to get bored as there isn’t a singing snowman in sight. Also beware it does run about 2 hours and 45 minutes, so that should probably rule out taking anyone too young. Anastasia works great for adults though, don’t let the inspired by the animated classic fool you. It’s more historical romance than animated antics. The tour is in town through December 19th and there will be a special Kids Night on Hennepin event on Wednesday, Dec. 15 with a special 50% off ticket offer. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://hennepintheatretrust.org/

“qaDan nughDaq, maHvaD wanI’ tlhaQ nIvqu’ lunob. (English Translation) The Classic Klingon Holiday Classic “It’s An Honorable Life” is Great Fun for Fans of Star Trek and Holiday Shows

OK this was a strange but fun one. It’s an Honorable Life is a parody of the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life set among Klingons. Now that’s an interesting enough idea, but there’s more. The play is performed in the Klingon language. For those who are not fluent in Klingon, the english translation is projected above the stage. Is this show for everyone? No, not really. You have to be familiar with Star Trek and the Klingon way of life at the very least. The more you know about the world of Star Trek TOS and TNG, the more you will get out of the show. Those familiar with It’s a Wonderful Life, The Day the Earth Stood Still, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and other sources will be rewarded with countless easter eggs throughout the show.

The twist on the classic story is that instead of everyone praying for George Bailey to be OK, they are praying for Bailey, Son of Peter, to have an Honorable Death. After Bailey is tricked into accepting a position as teacher to young warriors by Councilor Potter, thus sentencing him to a life away from the battlefield and robbing him of the chance to die gloriously in battle, those around him pray for him to find an honorable death. The pleas are heard by beings from the Q Continuum and they send one of their kind to toy with Bailey for their amusement. We follow Bailey the Klingon and Q as they look back at his life. From a battle against the Federation “Red Shirts” which has fun with the ease which the red shirts die in Star Trek TOS. To Bailey’s wife Mary’s attempt to stage a Christmas Pageant for the humans at a treaty negotiation. And what would have happened had he died as a younger man to his wife and daughter Zuzu. The script was written by Bill Stiteler, Brian Watson-Jones, Tim Uren, and Tim Wick and directed by Jason Kruger. It’s a clever script that occasionally sticks to a joke to long. The parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas outstays it’s welcome a little bit. There is a lot of humor that anyone familiar with holiday classics and pop culture in general will get, but the show is really for fans of Star Trek. You don’t have to speak Klingon, but you will want to have at least noticed that Klingons from TOS and those from the movies onward look different. If that isn’t you, this probably is not the show to see. If you are a fan, it’s a really fun show. The costumes and props are all good enough, the Bat’leth’s (Klingon Weapons) are particularly well done. I also appreciated the prosthetics designed by Bill Hendrick, they are not TV quality, but for a stage show at the Mound Theatre, they were way more than I was expecting.

I was wondering how hard it would be for a cast to learn the entire script for a play in a foreign language. I mean sure some of them might know Klingon but there are 17 cast members, what are the odds they all speak Klingon? Well, it turns out you don’t have to memorize the Klingon dialogue. There were three teleprompters set up along the stage front that the actors could read like cue cards. This is surprisingly effective as the audience spends a lot of time looking up at the projected translation, and I was a ways into the play before I noticed one of the actors reading from the prompter. To be fair most of the actors seem to be using it as reference and perform a lot of the dialogue without reading. I’d liken it to the average SNL skit, it’s obvious at times that they are reading a cue card, but are still able to deliver a performance. It’s a gimmick but it works and makes the show unique.

If you are a Star Trek fan and looking for something fun to do this Holiday season I think you’ll get a kick out of It’s an Honorable Life. I really enjoyed the venue as well, there are movie theatre concessions, popcorn, candy, soda, coffee, beer, wine, and even mixed drinks for sale that you can enjoy during the show. The productions runs through December 19th, for more information and to purchase tickets go to It’s an Honorable Life.