Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Out & About / Ventura County | theater notes

Just Ignore the Title

'Invasion of the Baud iSnatchers' is a fun romp.

November 16, 2000|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If it seems as though some local college is putting on one production or another every week or so, that's because one is--usually, with runs of no more than two weekends. Such is the glut, in fact, that we had to pass on Ventura College's current production of Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," of which we were notified the day before opening.

Cal Lutheran University and Moorpark College, both of which mounted plays in October, are back; the former with an entirely new, faculty-written musical, and Moorpark with Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

The forced title of "Invasion of the Baud iSnatchers," by Cal Lutheran associate professor Ken Gardner, is by far the worst aspect of what turns out to be a fast-paced blend of science fiction (heavy on "Star Wars," "Terminator," "Star Trek" and--of course--"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" allusions) and a parody of campus life.

Scientists from 2084 (there's still a Norway, we learn, and Dynel wigs are in fashion) time-travel back to the present, tracking down an evil half-human who, if unchecked, may cause the end of mankind, or something. They wind up at Millennium Oaks University, just in time for homecoming. Sci-fi high jinks ensue in a clever combination of live action and pre-taped segments.

This is one of those comedies, like the "Airplane" genre of movies, in which everything is tossed against the wall in hopes that something occasionally sticks. Although most of the targets are easy ones (airhead TV newscasters, campus jocks and so on) and there are lots of references that will mean more to Cal Lutheran students than to the rest of us (with Cal Lutheran president Luther Luedtke in a couple of cameos), it's pretty funny even to this outsider.

Acting ability isn't really a major requirement in plays like this, but Dana Shaw and Alison Retzloff are noteworthy among the huge cast as newscasters, Annemarie Bjordal and Jonathan Dressler as scientists from the future, Oliver Trimble as a football player, and Mona Grenne and Patrick Reid as Scandinavian sisters.

Ron DiBuccio wrote the sometimes not very original songs with Gardner, who also directed. Good news: The small band that provides instrumental backing for the singing actors performs its own brief set before curtain time.

DETAILS

"Invasion of the Baud iSnatchers" continues today through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Cal Lutheran University Little Theater, on the campus at 60 W. Olsen Road in Thousand Oaks (ask a student or staff member for the SUB; the Little Theater is next door). General admission is $8, free with CLU ID. For more information, call 493-3415.

*

Moorpark College's is the second major production of "Into the Woods" this year; the first was at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center in February. The current one, under the direction of Marilyn Anderson, is much more lavish. It's a modern look at old fairy tales, with a witty book (borrowing from Perrault and the Grimms) by James Lapine and songs by Stephen Sondheim that are, well, Sondheim. In other words, they're undeniably clever, and you're likely to lose track of most of them before they're over, never mind humming them on your way home.

Act I is structured to hold up on its own, ending pretty much at "happily ever after." The second act is darker and (to some) more interesting as Lapine carves his own version of what happened next. (The same sort of thing happens in Acts I and II of "The Fantasticks.") Enchanting as this production most assuredly is, and its source material notwithstanding, this is not a show for young children but is one of Sondheim's more accessible post-"Funny Thing" musicals.

Mark Tortorici plays the narrator; Roxana Morabbi is Cinderella; Jeremiah Shoop is Jack (of beanstalk fame), with Kelly Morneau as his mother. Hank Florence and Katie Watts play a baker and his wife; Brandy Finmark is Little Red Riding Hood, Joel Poehlman is the wolf; Delaney Gibson is the Witch; Rebecca Itow is Rapunzel . . . the list goes on. Brian Murphy conducts the 19-piece orchestra, Sahber Rawles choreographed, and Paulette Cox and Bridgett Frost are credited with designing the handsome and imaginative stage set.

DETAILS

"Into the Woods" concludes Sunday at the Moorpark College Performing Arts Center's Mainstage Theater, 7075 Campus Road. Performances are today at 1:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Evening tickets are $12 general, $8 students, $7 seniors and children (although this show is not recommended for young children). All matinee seats are $7. Due to parking restrictions, today's performance is not recommended for off-campus visitors. For reservations or information, call 370-1485.

*

"Picasso at the Lapin Agile" continues Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Ventura College theater on Loma Vista Road between Ashwood and Day. Tickets are $7; $3, students, staff and seniors. For further information, call 654-6400.

Todd Everett can be reached at teverett@concentric.net.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|