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Theater Review (LA): Geeks! The Musical! World Premiere

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It was bound to happen. The annual Comic-Con Expo in San Diego, California, has grown into such an all-consuming cultural monster, eating everything in its path, that it was only a matter of time before someone created a theatrical piece based on the experience. The good news here is that Thomas J. Misuraca’s new production, Geeks! The Musical!, is an enjoyable riff on the phenomenon.

Geeks! takes place during a typical Comic-Con weekend and is populated by the usual Expo types. Arriving first are best friends Jordan (Jonathan Brett) and Chip (Tyler Koster). Jordan’s fervent hope is to find a mint copy of Batman #92, and Chip just wants to geek out for the weekend with his pal.

But Kerry (Redetha Deason)—a rare female of the Geek species—shows up, and Jordan is smitten. She’s accompanied by her bitchy best friend, Emerson (Wil Bowers), and Jordan begs Chip to distract Emerson while he makes his moves on Kerry.

Also at the Expo is Audrina (Juliette Angeli), a goth girl who dreams of hitting it big with her new comic book series, illustrated by her would-be paramour, Trey (Brandon Murphy Barnes), a self-proclaimed bisexual artist. Lastly, there’s Mel Tyler (Richard Warren Lewis), a washed-up, middle-aged actor from a cult sci-fi series who has come to the conference to sign autographs for his remaining fans.

Of course, these characters intersect and collide in the dealer rooms and lobbies of the San Diego Convention Center, and it makes for an enjoyable evening of light entertainment. You don’t have to be a sci-fi nerd to catch all the references, but it helps. If arguing the pros and cons of the different actors who played Dr. Who can keep you riveted all night, and if you blame the release of the Star Wars special editions for your bitter outlook on life, this show is for you.

The book and lyrics by Misuraca take good-natured jabs at all the sci-fi convention tropes, accompanied by composer Ruth Judkowitz’s workable score. It’s really the cast that puts the material over, and this ensemble does it nicely, especially Koster, Angeli, Bowers, and Lewis. The “Geek Chorus” provides some good background color, aided by Liz Heathcoat’s fun choreography, which occasionally reminded me of the “Time Warp” number in Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I mean that in a good way.

A few of the songs are worth a smile, but others provide some true guffaws, including Emerson’s cynical “I Hate It!”, in which he slams Lucas, Spielberg, and Bay; Kerry and Audrina’s duet demanding the empowerment of “Women in Sci-Fi”; and Chip’s hilariously pedantic “Who’s Who of Doctor Who.”

Certainly, Geeks! The Musical! is lighter than air, but with subject matter like this, one doesn’t expect to encounter Eugene O’Neill. Instead, Misuraca maintains a satirical tone that has fun with the passionate Comic-Con fans without being cruel. In fact, I can visualize this show being performed in Hall H prior to the Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards.

I had the good fortune to attend Comic-Con in 2008, and Geeks! brought back happy memories of that weekend.

Geeks! The Musical! plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Write Act Theatre, 6128 Yucca Street, Hollywood, until March 17. Tickets can be obtained by calling (323) 469-3113 or online.

Photos: Anne Mesa

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About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.