Gee Willickers

Gee Willickers

Space opera with a twist

Gee Willikers, Space! musical on Vancouver stage until Saturday

It’s not Futurama, Flash Gordon or the infamous Plan Nine From Outer Space.

But Gee Willikers, Space! – complete with snazzy crew uniforms and space hardware that looks suspiciously like a collision between a glue gun and a the contents of a household recycling bin – seems a sure bet to please fans of the deliberately cheesy, retro-futuristic space-opera genre.

A collaboration of White Rock Players Club board member Kate Stadel (nee Bethell) and Toni Maggio (of Toronto’s Third Kid Productions) the original musical hits the stage this week until Saturday at Vancouver’s Renegade Studios, 125 E. 2 Ave., with shows at 8 p.m., as well as a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.

Local theatre fans will recognize Colin Lane as Squelch, smart sidekick to inept space explorer Capt. Kybosh (Matt Loop) and Mike Balser as the all-important Roadie, a hireling who ends up doing most of the work on the spaceship.

Also involved in the race between teams from Earth and the alien Planet Zifroidia in search of scarce Magnorious (“the most utilized element since high-fructose corn syrup”) are Deanna Overland, as the “very tough” Captain Salvo; Leslie Dos Remedios, as Kybosh’s largely decorative companion, Lola Lewis, and Maggio in the role of evil Lord Nefarious.

“Evil roles are the most fun,” Stadel, who also directs, commented. “She plays it very androgynously.

“Toni and I started writing it about four years ago,” she said, adding that she met Maggio during the six years she spent in the Toronto professional theatre scene after cutting her teeth on White Rock and Lower Mainland shows.

“We met through Second City – she graduated from their training program and I’ve always had a strong comedy background.

“We wanted to create a strong female musical character and we also wanted to do something with a goofy retro outer space theme. We found it a really fun idea, and, at that time, we hadn’t seen anything like like it. Since I came back to Vancouver, we’ve been busy writing it over Skype.”

In addition to the sharp humour of the script, there are also some funny songs, Stadel said, which have been shaped by the expertise of musical director Jane Milliken.

“Toni and I basically wrote the songs and we were able to hum the tunes for her – she took that and helped us compose and orchestrate the music,” Stadel said.

But those who want to catch this premiere production of Stadel’s Rock Theatre Co. should act fast to reserve to tickets.

“The Renegade Studios are the old Vancouver Playhouse scene shop, so there are only about 60 seats in the theatre space,” she said.

Tickets are $20 at the door, or reserve online at www.rocktheatreco.com