By Byrne Harrison
Photograph by Streeter Phillips
A musical version of "Jurassic Park" told from the dinosaurs' point of view. I'll admit when I decided to review this, it was with the same sense of creepy fascination that one experiences when watching the aftermath of a car crash. I pictured a pretentious "concept" musical, full of young, eager actors ready to show off what they had learned perfecting their craft through those four long years as undergrads.
Holy crap, was I wrong about that.
Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical is pretty damn brilliant.
To say that the musical tells the story of "Jurassic Park" is a bit of an overstatement. In fact, it takes a small plot point from the movie, the fact that some of the dinosaurs were able to turn male thanks to the addition of frog DNA to fill in the blanks in the dinosaur DNA, and expands that into a meta-musical that touches on faith vs. science, gender roles, love, betrayal, finding a home, and the enduring, almost mythic appeal of Morgan Freeman.
Velociraptor of Faith (John Jeffrey Martin) is the leader of a happy band of female dinosaurs. Happy, that is until T-Rex 2 (Natalie Bradshaw) suddenly grows a penis. Confused and questioning their faith in The Lab that made them, the dinosaurs send Baby Velociraptor (Brandon Gill) to reach out to the Velociraptor of Science (the hilarious Mary Ellen Ashley), the exiled twin sister of the Velociraptor of Faith to tell them what is happening. Along the way, Morgan Freeman (Lee Seymour) says lots of profound, and wildly amusing stuff (his rumination on the word "catastrophe" is brilliant).
The writers of Jurassic Parq have created a wildly irreverant musical that will appeal to an audience weaned on the satire of "South Park," "Family Guy" and the like. Director Marshall Pailet crafts a tight, sharp production (slightly over an hour long). Music director (and Pianosaurus) Jonathan Breit does an amazing job, as does choreographer Kyle Mullins, who has created some great numbers.
Acting is uniformly strong, with particular praise going to Ashley, Bradshaw, Seymour and Martin. And though he didn't say much, Brandon Espinoza repeatedly stole scenes as Mime-o-saurus, a rather brilliantly written role.
The last performance of Jurassic Parq is today, but I imagine this is not the last we'll see of this show.
Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical
Written by Emma Barash, Bryce Norbitz, Marshall Pailet, Stephen Wargo
Directed by Marshall Pailet
Producer: Bryce Norbitz
Choreographer: Kyle Mullins
Stage Manager: Ashley Rodbro
Music Director: Jonathan Breit
Costume Designer: Bronwyn Meehan
Lighting Designer: Dante Smith
Set Designer: Caite Hevner
Technical Director: Rahel Biru
Assistant Director: Maggie Burrows
Assistant Stage Manager: Elaina Kwartler
Associate Set Designer: Alyssa Dillon
Press Agent: Drew Fornarola
Print and Graphic Design: Casey Ford Alexander/Alexander Arte
Press Photographer: Streeter Phillips
Marketing Assistant: Anna Perczak
Fashion Police: Hayley Podshun
Dino-Interns: Eddie Pailet, Annie Norbitz
Featuring: Mary Ellen Ashley (Velociraptor of Science), Natalie Bradshaw (T-Rex 2), Jonathan Breit (Pianosaurus), Denise Dumper (Chorusasaurus), Brandon Espinoza (Mime-a-saurus), Jay Frisby (Dilophosaurus), Brandon Gill (Baby Velociraptor), Olli Haaskivi (Chorusasaurus), Emily Jenda (Chorusasaurus), John Jeffrey Martin (Velociraptor of Faith), Cara Massey (Chorusasaurus), Tara Novie (T-Rex 1), Lee Seymour (Morgan Freeman)
VENUE #7: The Ellen Stewart Theatre @ LA MAMA
Fri 20 @ 7
Sat 21 @ NOON
Sun 22 @ 6:15
Wed 25 @ 7:45
Fri 27 @ 4