Thursday, August 2, 2012

Catch Musical Parody "Triassic Parq" at the SoHo Playhouse Before It Becomes Extinct!

It's a play 65 million years in the making.  If you're thinking about "Dino DNA," you're following the right tracks, but this story wasn't authorized by Michael Crichton or Steven Spielberg, as the show's narrator, Morgan Freeman, explains. Rather, "Triassic Parq" is a rapturous hour-and-a-half of creative, low-budget musical parody theater, and it's only showing (for now), through August 5, at the SoHo Playhouse.  Read on to find out why you should try to catch these dinosaurs in action lest they disappear forever (again).

Audience members enter a small, 200-seat theater adorned with jungle vines and "electric" fencing (to keep the dinosaurs at bay, of course), as the soothing sounds of roaring dinos, chirping birds and other natural melodies fill the air.  The story begins with a bang, literally, and a crucial climactic scene is revealed with the opening number, "Velociraptor in a Cage (Velociraptor Full of Rage)."  The audience is left wondering what it all means, as the story backs up, and we learn that the "Q" in "Triassic Parq" stands for "question" (and, undoubtedly, and not even very subtly, queer and/or questioning).  "Triassic Parq" indeed examines some tough questions, such as whether faith and science can co-exist, and whether scorned lovers can overcome the "true weapon of mass destruction...emotion."

Imagine a man-made fairy tale park, on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, where visitors can view real, live dinosaurs such as velociraptors and tyrannosaurus rex.  The island's electric fences are the only thing separating the vicious beasts from the public, who are driven by in SUVs on dinosaur tours of the park.  Behind those fences, dinosaur pastor, Velociraptor of Faith (played by Wade McCollum), ensures that his dinosaur clan honors their creator, "Lab," and does not step too far out of line by asking too many questions about their origin.  Velociraptor of Faith makes it clear that his leadership, and the clan's faith in "Lab," should not be challenged.

Unbeknownst to the dinosaurs living on the island, the human scientists of "Lab" were careful as could be when they cloned the dinosaurs from DNA extracted from ancient mosquitoes, mixed with a just a small amount of modern frog DNA to complete the scientific process.  In order to control the population, only female dinosaurs were created.  However, as Morgan Freeman explains, "life finds a way."

Thus, hilarity, disharmony and chaos ensue when a female T-Rex suddenly discovers that she has grown an extra appendage, of sorts, and her mind, emotions and desires begin to change along with her (his? its?) body.  When Velociraptor of Innocence (played perfectly coyly by Alex Wyse) begins to ask too many questions, she is forced into the forest, on a soul-searching journey to find Velociraptor of Faith's sister, Velociraptor of Science, who had been banished from the clan, ostensibly for her beliefs and her unwillingness to blindly accept the will of "Lab."  Velociraptor of Science (played by Lindsay Nicole Chambers) roars onto the stage  with a ferocious charisma as she sings about the meaning of the word "Science."

The cast of only eight actors does a wonderful job of transporting the audience to a "Triassic Parq" full of singing and dancing dinosaurs (not to mention, a rambunctious, yet quiet "Mime-a-saurus," played by Brandon Epinoza).  The catchy and clever rock/hip-hopera music, and the flashy, fresh choreography (developed by choreographer, Kyle Mullins) bring this show full circle.  Accompanied by a live "Pianosaurus" (Zak Sandler, who also serves as the show's musical director), and percussionist (Jeremy Yaddaw), one can't help but fall for "Triassic Parq."  It's the kind of show that makes you wish you had been witty enough to write it, and one that you want to immediately see again as soon as it ends.  Three days after seeing this show, I still find myself singing to myself, "It's a Beautiful Day to be a Woman."

For an added treat, if you don't mind being poked, prodded, sat on or even laid upon, purchase an on-stage ticket and become part of the live action of "Triassic Parq."  Leave the little ones at home, as this sexy show is definitely R-rated.

You can purchase tickets to "Triassic Parq" on the show's website here, or try discount ticket site, broadwaybox (on-stage tickets are not available discounted).  Also on the show's official site, you can read more about the show's co-authors, Marshall Pailet (also composer and director), Bruce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo, among other creative team members, as well as production members, and the full cast of characters.  Oddly enough, WGINY discovered this show via a targeted facebook ad, which brought me to the show's facebook page, which everyone should "like" if only for the daily dose of amazing dino humor.

"Triassic Parq" was the 2010 recipient of the New York International Fringe Festival award for Best Musical.

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