BWW Reviews: TRIASSIC PARQ is a Quirky Comedy Delight
This weekend, dinosaurs were spotted in Chapel Hill. Wagon Wheel Arts' production of Triassic Parq played the Kenan Theatre from Thursday through Sunday. The show follows the same dinosaurs made famous by the film Jurassic Park, but explores the lives of those dinosaurs in a whole new way. These dinosaurs deal with religion, hormones, and the very notion of freedom itself - through song and dance, naturally.
In a nutshell, all the dinosaurs in Triassic Parq (which is Jurassic Park without the legal entanglements of potential infringement suits, as stated in the opening number) are born female. When one of the Tyrannosauruses suddenly becomes male, their worlds are turned upside down by doubt and insecurity. The Velociraptor of Innocence breaks free from the electric fence which contains the dinosaurs in search of answers. On the way, she uncovers truths both pleasant and unpleasant, and ultimately finds some answers.
Morgan Freeman, serving initially to narrate the show, played by Jackson Bloom (who, as it happens, bears no actual physical resemblance to the actual Morgan Freeman - a finely executed comic element of the show), delivers the number "Morgan Freeman's Song," which provides exposition in a manner reminiscent of Harold Hill with its sort of talk-singing. The number sets up the rest of the show for success, as it puts the audience the proper frame of mind to see a show that carries a message through its humor.
One of the comedy highlights of the show is the musical number "Beautiful Day," in which the dinosaurs sing that it's a "beautiful day to be a woman." Though all of the characters are female, only some of the actors are, which provides some great comedic moments, especially from the Velociraptors of Faith and Innocence. The Velociraptor of Innocence, played by Jorge Donoso is particularly great as she tap dances with joy at the wonder of womanhood.
Triassic Parq features a variety of different musical styles, including traditional musical theater, rap, and rock and roll - all of which the cast seemed game to take on. The young cast was energetic and up for anything - they seemed to take on the task of playing dinosaurs with equal parts fun and didactic. While still understanding the weight of the themes throughout the show, they had plenty of fun with the lighthearted demeanor through which those themes are conveyed. A standout among the already talented cast was Jessica Sorgi, who played T-Rex 2, whose stellar vocals added depth to the character of a dinosaur gone hormonally haywire. Nilan Johnson was spot-on as the Velociraptor of Faith, hitting the comedy notes as well as the dramatic undertones. Overall, the cast had both the talent and disposition to pull off a show as wild as this one.
Triassic Parq ran from August 22-25.
Photo Credit: Paul Davis.