In the zone

Blue Room players evoke timely memories of mass hysteria in the annual Twilight Zone series

NOT BIRD NOR PLANE NOR EVEN FROG<br> The cast of the latest episode of the Blue Room’s twice-annual Twilight Zone revival looks to the skies for, well, something.

The cast of the latest episode of the Blue Room’s twice-annual Twilight Zone revival looks to the skies for, well, something.

photo by Tom Angel

Call it War of the Worlds-style chaos with a modern twist.

The Blue Room’s pre-Halloween play, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, draws from a cult-favorite episode of the classic The Twilight Zone television series from the 1960s. It’s adapted a bit: For example, the child character—the catalyst for the paranoia—is now a punk teen (Hayley Hughes), and there are scattered references to Art Bell and Jerry Springer.

“It’s fun and scary,” explains the play’s assistant director, Corinne Mugley. Craig Blamer is directing.

“We have set it, basically, in Anytown, USA,” Mugley says. The type of suburban street that’s used to ice cream trucks and little red wagons, not aliens from outer space.

Cue the creepy theme music, the lights and the retro Rod Serling, played by Dan Tomassini.

The play proceeds in an eerie tone, with comic relief. Neighbors suspect neighbors of ties to otherworldly “monsters.” A car inexplicably starting and a porch light coming on bring suspicion and accusations. The hysteria builds to an inevitable conclusion, a moral tale that Mugley says is especially apropos as “a metaphor for what’s going on in the world right now.”

As usual, humans prove to be their own worst enemy, as they try to sort out who’s human and who’s not. Says Serling: “Prejudices can kill and suspicions can destroy.”

The cast of characters reads like a who’s who of local theater talent, with Slim Barkowska, John W. Young and Tiffany Garner in the lead roles. Tim Bousquet plays the drunken, accusation-hurling neighbor, Charlie. Other players include: Amber Miller, Hayley Hughes, Justin Jeffers, Krissi Lueck and Kristy Reischman, plus the “commercials” cast of Mugley, Betty Burns, Callen Reece, John Bertoli and Karen Miller.

The sketch-comedy “commercials” for local businesses like the Black Crow, LuLu’s Fashion Lounge and Stormy’s Bar and Grill are similarly irreverent and indulgent, and altogether funny. Audience participation is welcome. “People are encouraged to come, hoot and holler—it’s kind of like Rocky Horror,” Mugley says.

Mugley adds that the Blue Room expects a big crowd for the 11 p.m. showings. The twice-a-year Twilight Zone Live events usually sell out, and the crew is thinking of invoking the ghost of Rod Sterling more often.

The show opens Oct. 19 at 11 p.m. and plays the 20th, 26th and 27th. It’s recommended for teens on up.