Review: IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Review: IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian’s IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is campy musical theater fun that pays homage to the 1953 “B-movie” from which it’s adapted. In the vein of musicals like LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, Blair and Kinosian lean into the source material’s ability to delight and amuse with a take-home message that’s clear as day—but the earnestness of the material is what allows it all to be delivered with a wink. Laura Braza’s production guides the six cast members through the material swiftly (though it does still seem like a song or two could be cut, particularly while the show ramps up to the unveiling of those mysterious aliens). Scott Davis’s set design, Mieka Van Der Ploeg’a costumes, Heather Sparling’s lighting design, Rasean Davonté Johnson and Michael Salvatore Commendatore’s projections and video all echo the cheekiness of the musical. 

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE centers on astronomer John Putnam (Christopher Kale Jones, understanding the assignment to deliver every line with absolute sincerity for maximum amusement) who finds himself in the small, dusty town of Sand Rock, Arizona on his quest to identify life forms from other planets. He soon falls for charming primary school teacher Ellen Fields (Jaye Ladymore), but he’s somewhat skeptical about the town’s other residents. When John finds evidence that aliens from another planet may indeed have landed in Sand Rock and are, in fact, taking over the bodies of residents, it’s up to him to save the day. 

Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Ann Delaney, Sharriese Hamilton, and Alex Goodrich all take on multiple roles as both residents and aliens. In keeping with the “B-movie” homage, they often scramble to switch roles rapidly—resulting in some hilarious and intentionally obvious double casting. The result is endlessly charming, and these are impressive performers. Whether they’re playing Sand Rock residents or aliens, they’re always fun to watch. Butler-Duplessis, Delaney, Hamilton, and Goodrich give each of their characters a distinct energy. Vocally, the entire ensemble’s on point as well. The opening number “We Are Out There” is eerie, funny, and a great showcase for vocal harmonies. Butler-Duplessis and Goodrich are also excellent duet partners as Frank and George, two town electricians who have vastly different feelings about life in the desert. Hamilton’s powerful belt is always welcome in any musical. Delaney’s distinctive vocals as the alien Thalgorian-X are particularly amusing on “I Can’t Figure Out Men,” a song she shares with Ladymore and Hamilton. 

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a clever summer musical escape with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and an earnest spirit.

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE plays at Chicago Shakespeare Theater through July 24, 2022. Visit chicagoshakes.com for tickets.

Photo Credit: Liz Lauren

Originally published on BroadwayWorld.com

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