By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
Longtime fans of Gaslight Theatre know there are times when their theater outing is made more special by a spectacular aftershow Olio performance. It’s like remembering a delicious dinner for its terrific dessert.
“The Incredible Spider-Guy” now playing at the eastside emporium is going to be one of those times. The show is good, make no mistake. The old school less-than-analog special effects by Tom Benson to get Spider-Guy slinging those webs as he swings above the high rise office buildings of Center City are quite imaginative.
Jake Chapman in the red-and-blue suit of this nimble superhero with arachnid super-skills is excellent. Over the past season, Chapman’s performances keep growing stronger with every show.
Tarreyn Van Slyke as the equally iconic Mary Lou fills the stage with her uniquely bubbly enthusiasm. The two of them do have a quite magical connection.
That famous scene from the movie is celebrated at the Gaslight when Spider-Guy hanging upside down from a slender spider thread meets mask-to-face with Mary Lou. When she impulsively unmasks him for their first kiss, the audience breaks into romantic sighs and heartfelt applause.
More dastardly deeds by the villainous Mathias Maxwell and E. Edgar Eagleton will follow to complicate the lives of Spider-Guy and Mary Lou in this smash-up of competing agendas between science and crime.
But not to worry. Even after all is set right in the end, there is still that wonderful Olio to follow, with one smashing variety show performance after another.
“The Gong Show” is the setting, with veteran cast member Joe Cooper doing his goofy Chuck Barris routine, while asking such eponymous questions as “If the airplane’s black box always survives every crash, why don’t they make the whole airplane out of that stuff?”
Jacob Brown as a bouncing bumblebee got things going with his buzzy version of “La Bamba,” quickly followed by Janee Page bringing down the house by going full-out on “Flashdance…What A Feeling.”
Todd Thompson, Mike Yarema and Chapman put flower pots on their heads to further inflate this euphoria as the members of Devo singing “Whip It!” Van Slyke then did her part with an energetic “Into The Groove.”
Shifting gears, Yarema came back onstage in his chicken costume for some high camp humor with “Chick-A-Boom” that set up David Orley’s emotional tandem of tunes, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/Goin’ Out of My Head.”
All of which, we discovered, was the door opener for a double-headed showstopper climax featuring Heather Stricker, Page and Van Slyke as the defiant Disco Grannies coming out to wave their canes, shouting “I Will Survive,” answered by the cast’s men dressed like the Village People to fill the stage singing (and spelling) their version of “Y.M.C.A.”
By the time everyone came back out for a final reprise, the audience was happily helpless, spent and exhausted.