By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
When you think about it, if Ella Fitzgerald had married Darth Vader her name would be Ella Vader!
If that joke makes you laugh, head quickly to Gaslight Theater, where the sci-fi loving gang has put together a galactic-level production of “Space Wars,” written and directed by Peter Van Slyke.
Hyper-humor to match the hyper-drive of this interstellar adventure makes the free popcorn pop on everyone's table as the celebratory references to Steven Spielberg's iconic opus keep rolling.
The best part is knowing that Gaslight Theatre loves the whole “Star Wars” mystique and would never consider ridiculing any part of it.
For example, spunky WD-40 is the spittin' image of his android cousin on the big screen, R2D2, all white and stubby, rolling around while spouting the same unspeakable vocabulary of high-pitched tones.
But the real scene-stealer, just like he was in Spielberg's first film, is the towering hirsute hero known simply as Shuey, howling out his emotions.
All the other elements you would expect to be there, are there. The Force that gives these Galactic Knights their inner strength, the humming laser swords, green-faced Yoga's backwards syntax, Princess Layla's twin-bun hairdo – and lots more.
All the roles are double cast. Jake Chapman was Shuey the night I went. Janee Page played Layla, leader of the Stellar Union. Gaslight newcomer Christopher Younggren donned the black helmet and intimidating breathing apparatus of Darth Vader. Making his verbs do all the work from back at the end of every sentence was Jacob Brown as Yoga.
The actual plot is a bit of a mash-up of favorite moments from a few films of the eponymous series. One of the most effective is the early sequence when that hologram call for help is received from Princess Leia, er, Princess Layla.
My personal favorite from the first movie, the nightclub scene with all manner of outer space travelers, is in there. There is the second-hand space ship that's reluctant to start, the instant deep-freeze treatment by sinister forces and of course the iconic moment when Duke Skyfighter (Mike Yarema) learns the identity of his father.
Th musical tribute numbers include “Oh What A Night,” “Don't Stop Believin',” “Spirit in the Sky” and “Baby Hold On To Me.”
The aftershow Olio turns to the Disney corporation for inspiration, presenting sketches presenting songs from several of Disney's favorite movies.
No movie titles are mentioned but you will immediately recognize the Little Mermaid. All manner of aquatic creatures join in singing “Under the Sea.”
Back on land, David Orley in his best bear outfit sings “The Bare Necessities.” There is a medley of songs with snowmen and an ice queen. Then comes a very bouncy “Hakuna Matata.” Blasting back from the past is “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifrag....(you know the rest),” ending with the evergreen “Beauty and the Beast.”
$16.50+tax (seniors, students and military)
$8.50+tax= (children 12 & under)
June 11 – August 30, 2015
Tickets are going fast! Call (520) 886-9428