When in doubt, always rap to the tune of Fresh Prince of Bel Air during an alien invasion. It’s just one takeaway from a hilarious musical version of the 1996 sci-fi summer action film, Independence Day, reimagined by 30 Minute Musicals at The Celebration Theatre as part of the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival. The musical is produced by Secondline Productions, the company behind a variety of other 30 minute musical versions of classic films, such as Jurassic Park, Top Gun and Home Alone.
Director, producer and writer Brooke Seguin infuses the story with upbeat musical numbers, well-worded satire and dancing The cast performs with high energy, poking fun at the diverse set of original characters from the film with spot-on impressions and exaggerations.
“We like to keep it real, interactive and in your face,” Seguin said.
The production is unique in that it is brilliantly simple. Staged in an intimate theatre that seats just 64 people, there are no sets or orchestra, just a live band in the background. Audience members get up close and personal with performers, who enter and exit the stage hrough the theatre’s doors. Rather than feeling like mere onlookers, the audience feels follows the same journey as the characters.
Moreover, by using simple props such as baby dolls for characters’ children and a handmade paper moon, the production proves that simplicity not only creates more space for originality; It produces a sense of charm.
One of the most memorable musical numbers was “Blastronaut,” as Captain Steven Hiller (Tommy Hobson) fervently pays homage to black astronauts or what he calls, “blastronauts.” It is a hilarious, overdramatic gospel performance with cast members entering in choir gowns, holding pictures of historical black astronauts. During the number, Captain Hiller’s wife, Jasmine (Sixx Carter), an exotic dancer, puts the audience in stitches with her sexy moves and her strange obsession with dolphins.
Michael Bernardi’s impressions of Jeff Goldblum, who played David Levinson in the film, are spot-on. Bernardi perfected the actor’s awkward mannerisms with expert twitches and blinks. Levinson’s father, Julius, is played by the show’s director, producer and writer herself, who pulls off the Jewish, cigar-wielding character fashionably well.
Activist, writer and musician Chaz Bono stars as none other than President Thomas J. Whitmore, whose leadership helps take down the aliens, ultimately bringing about victory. The former Dancing with the Stars contestant surely indulges in his new musical element, delivering a strong performance as the core leader of the group.
Bono’s performance, in addition to dancing aliens that almost look like green Barneys and amusing space battles prove that elaborate props, sets and costumes are not necessary to keep audience members afloat and engaged. Rather, the production is simple, short and satisfying, rendering the half-hour-long musical very enjoyable.
“Everyone wants everything quick, fast,” Seguin asid. “They don’t want intermission and they want to laugh,” Seguin said.
And surely, simple and short does it. “It’s fast, it’s fun,” the cast sings at the opening of the show. People have busy lives and have places to be. Many do not have time to sit and watch a two-hour movie or musical. Thus, Seguin’s 30-minute musical brings in innovative and comedic performances within a reasonable time frame that is satisfying and fresh. Audience members have the opportunity to engage with the arts on a whole other level.
30 Minute Musical: Independence Day is just wrapping up production with two performances left on June 26 and 30. Tickets are $10. Up next for Secondline Productions is 30 Minute Musical: Hook, coming in August.