It Came From Beyond - Grease Meets War of the Worlds

It Came From Beyond is a sci-fi, aliens from outer space, 1950's - style musical comedy premiering at the Write Act Theatre in Hollywood.   It's a show that starts out on a high energy level (with the title number), and pretty much stays there, giving us lots of pleasing song and dance and plenty of light-hearted laughter.

Kevin Earley

The story isn't complicated a nerdy high school bookworm discovers a sci-fi comic book that he thinks contains an awesome secret about life itself, and from there the 5-person cast shifts back and forth between their 'real' high school world and the comic-book realm of flying saucers and terror-struck earthlings.

Deficiencies in substance are well compensated for by brisk pacing and polished performances.  The acting is uniformly excellent, as Kevin Earley, Heather Marie Marsden, Todd Fournier, Stephen Breithaupt and Ali Spuck fulfill their campy roles to perfection, and director Coy Middlebrook keeps things moving along with nary a dull moment.

Kevin Earley gains our sympathy in the dual role of Harold (the nerd) and The Professor (the comic book character who fights the aliens).  Earley, whose Broadway credits include feature roles in 'Les Miserables' and 'Thoroughly Modern Millie,' is especially impressive when switching demeanors from the insecure, put-upon Harold to the commanding and heroic Professor. 

Heather Marie Marsden

Heather Marie Marsden is very fetching as the cute and captivating Becky who inevitably escapes the lustful clutches of the nefarious Steve (convincingly played by Todd Fournier), to fall into the arms of nerd-turned-hero Harold.  Marsden, whose theatre credits include 'Sweet Charity' and 'A Chorus Line,' as well as numerous film and TV appearances, also handles the show's choreography, which is clever and surprising in small ways in keeping with the overall production.

Steve Breithaupt as the school principal Mr. Fielding and the comic book military hard-ass The Colonel, is very adept and every bit as energetic as his younger cohorts.  His stance as the old soldier who believes the alien spaceships are part of a 'commie takeover' may seem a bit dated, but Breithaupt brings it off with a convincing display of monomania.

Much of the comedy is provided by Ali Spuck as Miss Benson/Jayne.  As Mr. Fielding's secretary and the Colonel's assistant, her character split is the most pronounced of all, and she exploits it for plenty of laughs.  Her sexual innuendos also provide a bit of adult fare in this otherwise rather innocently juvenile caper.

From Left to Right Stephen Breithaupt, Ali Spuck, Kevin Earley, Heather Marie Marsden, Todd Fournier

The single classroom setting designed by Tom Buderwitz is inviting and sufficient to encompass all of the action, and a futuristic, chalice-shaped movie screen in the ceiling at center stage provides just enough scenic variety with occasional plot-related footage.

Written and produced by Cornell Christianson, with sixteen sprightly songs by Norman Thalheimer and S.M. Schwartz (among the most stirring are 'American Way,' 'Fifties Kinda Guy' and the concluding love duet, 'Pure Chemistry'), It Came From Beyond is evanescent entertainment, as fleeting, yet memorable, as morning dew.  So whether you want to go back to the future, or just back to the past, you can hardly go wrong with this show.

It Came From Beyond runs on weekends through February 25 (Fridays at 8:00 PM and Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 PM.).  The Write Act Theatre is located at 6128 Yucca St., Hollywood.  For tickets call: (323) 960-4429.

 

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