By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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The Bard and the Godfather of Soul. Jerry Lee Lewis and “The Tempest.”
It's the stuff that rock and soul dreams — and theater — are made of, and it's on the Little Theater stage starting tonight as Peninsula College and the Port Angeles Light Opera Association, aka PALOA, present “Return to the Forbidden Planet (The Lost Shakespeare Musical).”
Like two spaceships colliding, “Return” is a mashup of love, science fiction, the 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet” and William Shakespeare's 1611 play “The Tempest.” Really.
Playwright Bob Carlton created the show and Richard Stephens, Port Angeles director and costume designer, has brought it here. With his signature glee, Stephens is praising a cast of veterans and newcomers: Sarah Tucker as the Science Officer, Jeremy Pederson as Captain Tempest, Anna Unger as Miranda and Misha Casella-Blackburn as Ariel, aka the roller-skating robot.
Together with a light show, fog, a live band and a tentacled space monster, the cast will alight on stage at 7:30 tonight and Saturday, at 2 p.m. Sunday and finally at 7:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22.
Tickets at the door are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors, free for Peninsula College students and $5 for other students, and the Little Theater is on the main Peninsula College campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Information awaits at www.PenCol.edu and on the college's Facebook page.
Life on this “Forbidden Planet,” Stephens promises, is all about transformation — and love.
Captain Tempest and Miranda meet on the planet D'ylleria, and things heat up right away. The would-be sweethearts and their comrades dance the zombie shuffle and the swing, then do some country line dancing, jive and jazz moves, while singing “Teenager in Love,” “Shakin' All Over,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”
“It's a Man's Man's Man's World” is in there, too, in a nod to Godfather of Soul James Brown.
And while songs like this are quickly recognizable, the Shakespeare will be, too, Stephens believes. Bits and pieces of the Bard's speeches and soliloquies are interwoven with the rock wisdoms of the 1950s and '60s.
“My favorite moment happens when Miranda walks onto the spaceship and sees Captain Tempest for the first time,” said Unger.
“It's a beautiful, pure moment between two completely different people with different stories. Yet when they see each other, it's love at first sight. Plus we're singing 'Good Vibrations,'” that Beach Boys classic from 1966.
“The song is absolutely perfect for the scene,” said Unger.
Her costar feels the same way. A newcomer to the musical stage, Pederson is crazy for “Forbidden Planet.” If he had to pick one favorite point in it, that would be when his character, Captain Tempest, sets aside his rigid heart in exchange for true love.
“I'm a sucker for love stories,” Pederson said.
True to its sci-fi roots, though, the show has an attack from a giant monster, a backdrop with a video feed created by Peninsula College media program students and a Bling the Merciless costume by Stephens.
Then there's Kaleb Gliko as the spaceship chef named Cookie. Kristin Quigley Brye directs the singers and leads the four-piece rock band through still more numbers, from “Wipeout” to “She's Not There” to “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.”
Stephens and Unger, who also choreographed “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” agree that this is Miranda's tale. She appears in a shimmering golden gown at the beginning — quite possibly Unger's favorite costume ever — and later in “something super scandalously sexy,” Stephens said.
“She has so much happen to her in just one day,” added Unger. Via her journey through time, space and fire, she becomes one powerful woman.