By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
photo by Brian Gawne
Dr. Cornelius Crocodilious (Mike Yarema) looks worried, but the Green Gremlin (Todd Thompson) is no match for Spider-Guy (Jake Chapman).
Leaving no superhero unexplored, “The Incredible Spider-Guy” is flying high at Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway. Always a favorite of the younger set, this web-slinging admirer of the arachnid lifestyle brings the admonition that “Tremendous strength requires tremendous accountability.”
Considering how troubled our own times can seem on television, radio, the internet news and all social media, this admonition bears repeating several times – for which the Gaslight gang is happy to oblige.
To tell this high-tech tale, special effects fill the versatile Gaslight stage. From a rumbling subway car to a towering executive suite to the agile Spider-Guy himself traveling on those sticky strands of silken steel (or so it seems) – to finding time for various cast members to break into a bluesy version of the Isley Brothers' “Shout” and “Sooner or Later (Love Is Gonna Get Ya)” – Spidey seems destined to be together with Mary Lou Peterson.
Fans of the “Spider-Man” films will be delighted to spot several iconic scenes in this show written and directed by Peter Van Slyke. My personal favorite is the first kiss that Spider-Guy shares with Mary Lou as he hangs upside down at just the right height to receive her attention.
Not to be forgotten either is that jet glider kind of thing flown as an attack aircraft by the villainous Mathias Maxwell, quickly changing from his tailored business suit to become the fearsome Green Gremlin, determined to squash Spider-Guy.
Although all the Gaslight roles are double and triple cast, at the performance I attended Todd Thompson played the glowering Maxwell/Gremlin. Some of the flying escapades are good enough to extend the reputation for highly imaginative low-tech stage designs by Tom Benson.
Boyish Jake Chapman dons the bright red and blue spider suit, adding his own agility bounding from wall to wall.
The cast member with the coolest name is Mike Yarema as Dr. Cornelius Crocodilious. He's only a high school science teacher but working on his own time and over weekends he has invented the powerful Molecular Actuator.
It is so powerful he has no idea how powerful it is. Of course we know it will be science student nerd Billy Baker whose molecules get so actuated he becomes Spider-Guy.
Adding still more energy to these shenanigans, just because she can, is Erin Thompson as Mackenzie Maxwell, one of Billy's classmates.
“The Incredible Spider-Guy” runs through August 27, with performances at various times Tuesdays through Sundays at the Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $19.95 adults; $17.95 students, seniors and military; $9.95 children 2-12. For details and reservations, 520-886-9428, or visit thegaslighttheatre.com