Friday, August 10, 2012



The Gaslight Theatre has been doing shows for 35 years, but has never cast a DeLorean sports car…until now.

Actually it isn’t the whole car, just the front half. And it isn’t an actual DeLorean, but a scaled-down though accurately depicted model (with a gull-wing door, of course) that has a starring role in the Gaslight’s all-new production “Back to the Past!”

The car’s big scene, when it blasts from 1987 straight back to 1957, is truly a marvel of low-tech special effects -- something the Gaslight Theatre does better than anyone else in town. Tom Benson did the scene design
Peter Van Slyke is the writer and director, coming up with a neat 1950s twist on nostalgia that is remarkably close to the cult movie favorite “Back to the Future.”

Fresh new face Jack Chapman plays Mickey McFry, the eager high school lad who accidentally drives his eccentric science teacher’s experimental car to the same street in Pleasantdale 30 years earlier.

Once Mickey gets over the shock of finding himself in quaint 1957, where even more quaint doo-wop songs seem to set the teen standard, he realizes his DeLorean doesn’t have any fuel to get him back to the future and his own comfy bedroom in 1987.

Then, much worse, Mickey discovers his own dad in 1957 was a nerdy high school kid who couldn’t talk to girls. In a flash of panic, Mickey realizes if his dad doesn’t get up the nerve to ask his future mom to dance, Mickey will never be born.

Fans of time travel can draw their own conclusions about this probability occurring. Can something that hasn’t happened yet still influence something else that hasn’t happened yet? There must be some science fiction writers’ rule to cover such a situation.

At the Gaslight, where a sense of time has always been rather arbitrary anyway, Van Slyke and company go fearlessly where no Gaslight cast has ever gone before.

Chapman makes a strong impression as a bubbly adolescent who can sing a good pop song. He makes a nice team with the equally effervescent Tarreyn Van Slyke as Mickey’s bouncy girlfriend Betsy.

Joe Hubbard and David Orley are double-cast in the flighty role of spiky white-haired Professor Jedidiah Bunsen, the science teacher always one test tube shy of a load.
Mike Yarema dons the glasses with white tape across the bridge to play the beleaguered Vern McFry,  Mickey’s reluctant dad.  Sarah Vanek  gets the sensible role of Mickey’s mom Lillian.

There aren’t any real Gaslight-type villains here, but Todd Thompson comes closest as Buzz the pot-bellied town bully who lives to humiliate both Verne and Mickey.
While many Gaslight shows would qualify as a blast from the past this one feels fresher, especially with that DeLorean lighting up when it breaks through warp speed.

Staying with that 1980s time frame, the after-show Olio does some costumed tributes to Boy George, Brian Setzer’s Stray Cats, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna doing “Vogue.”
As well as a joke with my favorite punch line, “Linoleum Blownapart.”  You just gotta’ be there



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