If you’ve read lots of science fiction, you’re an ideal audience member for Beyond the Proscenium Productions’ Sci Fi Hotel: The Musical Ver. 2.0
. The references come fast and furiously—from “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” (Harlan Ellison’s 1969 “new wave” short story) to Lucifer’s Hammer
(Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s “hard science” novel about a comet hitting the Earth) to Mary Shelley (the woman who unwittingly launched the genre with Frankenstein
in the 1800s).Actually, you might subtitle this show Fandom: The Musical
. The show’s creators—William Fuller, Jack Hastings and Jane Hastings, in collaboration with Donna Fuller and Ann Tracy—have absorbed the customs of science-fiction conventions: the huckster room, the masquerade (where fans dress up as science-fiction characters), the parties and the hangovers. They’ve framed these scenes from sci-fi subculture as a musical. The songs, some of which are quite catchy, work a wide variety of musical styles.
In keeping with the sci-fi motif, there’s a pulp-fiction-style plot, involving a nasty scientist, a stolen device, time travel and … you get the idea. We also get a set of “avatars” (robot, alien, mutant and spaceman). They function as a kind of chorus.
This being a musical, there’s also a love story. (It’s nearly impossible to stage a musical without one.) This story is attractively played by Jeremiah Lowder and Marcy Goodnow.
Alas, the alternating mix of genre in-jokes, romance and campy plotting proves unwieldy. Each is interesting, but it’s a case of the oars pulling in different directions. Though the show apparently has been revised and reorganized since last summer’s Ver. 1.0, it still feels a tad long. There are lots of interesting and enjoyable elements, but Ver. 2.0 hasn’t entirely jelled.