Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Also see Gil's reviews of Nonfat Soy Peppermint Mocha Latte ... with Sprinkles and Heathers: The Musical
Brian Newell and Nick McGee's adaptation streamlines the film plot a bit. The basic premise follows a group of Martians who decide to go to Earth and kidnap Santa Claus to make their Martian children have more fun. While the plot seems a bit heavy for a holiday tale, it is full of fun moments, comical situations and characters, and a big dose of charm.
The team of Martians who go to Earth are played by Zack Funk, McNamara, and Nathan Spector, with each of them delivering a unique, comical and even heartfelt performance. Funk is the Martian leader and he achieves a nice authoritative tone; McNamara is the evil Martian and he relishes every scene-chewing moment he can find; and Spector is the sweet and loving member of the troop who makes you care for him and his fellow Martians. As the three human characters in the show, Kyle Coughlin is the perfect embodiment of Santa Claus, full of care, love and sweetness, even to the Martians who abduct him, while Michael Margetis and Emily Lynne Aiken are hilarious as the children who get swept up in to the Martian plot.
David Chorley's swift direction keeps the show moving at a quick clip with scene changes that are faster than some past All Puppet Players production. Yet his direction is loose enough to allow for the occasional ad lib from the cast. Chelsea Umeda's scenic design features some large set pieces to portray the Martian spaceship. However, the static large pieces and the abundance of wrapped Christmas presents scattered around the set don't always signify the exact location of the story. As usual, the puppet designs are superb with the green-hued Martian puppets, which are in various shades and sizes, spectacular and Chorley, and Newell's sound design provides plenty of fun music moments.
Even with the somewhat abridged version of the film script, the evening still runs a bit long. However, with a game cast who play up the comical and somewhat idiotic moments of the original film it amounts to a humorous and fun departure from the usual holiday theatrical productions in town.
All Puppet Players' production of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians runs through December 19th, 2015, at Playhouse on the Park, 1850 N. Central Avenue, in Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased at www.allpuppetplayers.com or by calling 602-254-2151
Based on the adaptation by Brian Newell and Nick McGee from the
Screenplay by Glenville Martin and Paul L. Jacobson