Friday, April 30, 2010

Starmites To The Rescue!


Starmites

L to R: Thomas Krottinger, Jonah Priour, Natalie Storrs,
Donald Webber, Jr., Michael Joyce. Photo by Ashley Wright

Take one slightly nerdy teenage girl with a love of comic books and a very vivid imagination, add a handsome Space Punk Captain, three “boy band” Starmites, and a journey into Inner Space to rescue “The Cruelty,” and you have Starmites: An Intergalactic Musical, the delightful family-friendly show now playing though May 9th at Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica.

Misunderstood by her loving, but practical mother, Eleanor and her companions (including lizard puppet Trinkulus) venture off into a crazy fantasy world inhabited by Diva and her Banshees (more hand-manipulated puppets a la Avenue Q) and other evil-doers, in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, she learns to appreciate her own sense of worth, and they all learn the value of loyalty, love, sacrifice, and doing the right thing.

Director and choreographer Steve Edlund has put together a zany, energetic show filled with fun, fun, and more fun. You’ll smile every time his Starmites (Michael Joyce, Thomas Krottinger and Jonah Priour) take the stage with their precision boy band moves, “homina, homina, hey!” and fresh-faced enthusiasm.

USC grad Donald Webber, Jr. plays Space Punk and is a charming leading man with a lovely singing voice whose face lights up when he sings. Leading lady Natalie Storrs is thoroughly likeable as the determined Eleanor, Inner Space’s “M’Lady,” as well as the comically unfortunate Bizarbara.

Banshees Marisa Esposito, Riana Nelson, Jessica Perlman and Raquel Sandler back up Jen Reiter (playing both Eleanor’s mother and Bizarbara’s mother) with the kind of style and personality that only half-women, half-puppets can. Matthew McFarland also shows his puppet expertise in duo roles as lizard man Trinkulus and the evil Shak Graa. Congrats to puppet designer Jessica Dalva for her outstanding work with these hilarious puppet characters.


Starmites
Matthew McFarland (right), Photo by Ashley Wright


The three-piece band of synthesizers and percussion is led by music director, Michael Alfera, and captures just the right feel for this kind of pop-rock sci-fi inspired musical. Director Edland has also created a colorful set with special effects and hidden elements that add to the fun, along with Phil Kong's lighting, Lili Fuller's costumes and Sean Kranz's sound.

By the way, Starmites, which has music and lyrics by Barry Keating and a book by Stuart Ross and Keating, was also nominated for six Tony Awards in1989.

The all-around adorable Starmites will run through Sunday, May 9th at the Miles Memorial Playhouse located at 1130 Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/105660.

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