BWW Review: Pazakis' Dinosaurs & Company Hysterically Run Rampant in UMPO JURASSIC PARK
Kate Pazakis, executive producer of the UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF... series ably does triple duty in her latest wildly entertaining, two-hour production of THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF JURASSIC PARK. For UMPO JURASSIC PARK, Pazakis not only produces and cleverly writes this enthralling, very witty musical homage to Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic film Jurassic Park; Pazakis joins her talented cast onstage singing her ass off as the dinosaur T-Rex. Pazakis effortlessly wields a long stick with a huge dinosaur head atop of it while displaying her very strong vocal pipes in all her numbers, especially in her solos in "Walk the Dinosaur" and "I've Got the Power."
A brief outline of Jurassic Park for those who aren't familiar (and you don't have to be familiar to totally enjoy this) - Park creator billionaire John Hammond has invited select experts (paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, his assistant Ellie Sattler, attorney Donald Gennaro and mathematician Jeff Goldblum) to access the safety and authenticity of his genetically engineered dinosaurs. Also joining Hammond and his staff, Hammond's grandchildren Tim and Lex, when dinosaurs somehow get loose.
As in UMPO tradition, Pazakis takes pop tunes and fits them into the narrative ever so smoothly. Nathan Moore sharply directs his deliciously gifted cast at a breakneck speed, allowing just enough time for the audience to guffaw and applaud. How amazing that even though UMPO always utilizes double casting, this particular grouping of performers work so seamlessly together supporting each other while alternately giving each person their opportunity to grab their individual time to shine.
The entire main room of the Rockwell Table & Stage morphs into the island theme park named Jurassic. One does not just look at the stage for all the crazy action. You have to look in all directions, in every nook and cranny (sometimes literally right on top of you), to catch all the uproarious activity going on.
Michael Thomas Grant simply revels in his role of Jeff Goldblum (playing Dr. Ian Malcolm from the movie). Grant's nails his Goldblum impression with Goldblum's trademark stammering, exacting hand gestures and body language. Grant's major spotlight moment has his Goldblum totally rocking out on "Born To Be Wild" with his Elvis hip-swivels and seductive rock star posturing. While in seduction mode, Grant's Goldblum has his eye on Dr. Grant's assistant Ellie (an incredible Lesley McKinnell who easily switches from her dumb blonde persona to an uber-smart scientist) Their chemistry and heavy petting sizzles (as she tends to moisturizing his skin)! McKinnell's powerful vocals soar in her solo "What About Us."
Owain Rhys Davies as Hammond commands the stage with his spot-on comic delivery, on point Richard Attenborough accent and his very sharp dance moves. He also works wonders with a dino bobblehead. Rhys Davies and Hammond hilariously duet in "Push It," encouraging McKinnell to franticly push machinery buttons that somehow resemble an upright Twister gameboard. Too, too funny!
Keir Kirkegaard scores as children-adverse Dr. Grant, especially in the opening medley "Welcome to the Jungle/Walk the Dinosaur." Kirkegaard really shows off his nimble footwork dancing up a storm in "Hey Ya" and "The Electric Slide."
Speaking of the opening number, Mallory Butcher's choreography wows, as it does throughout JURASSIC.
A towering Dedrick Bonner stunningly vogues in the highest of heels as dinosaur Gallimimus in his battle with Pazakis' T-Rex. Then, as Dr. Arnold, Bonner most authoritively preaches a sermon to raise the roof, bringing church to the Rockwell. Can I hear an 'Amen'?
Lana McKissack and Amanda Kruger, besides providing great dancing and vocal support in multiple roles (both human and dinosaurious), leave their impressive kiddie imprints as Hammond's grandkids Lex and Tim. They both also join McKinnell and Pazakis for the very empowering, united vocals of "I'm Alive."
E.K. Dagenfield deftly plays three different roles displaying his vocal, dance and comic versatility. Dagenfield grabs centerstage with his showstopping "Man Eater."
As always, the UMPO band (led by musical director Gregory Nabours on piano, with Blake Estrada on bass, Emily Rosenfield on guitar and Greg Sadler on drums) provides sturdy musical support to all the vocal antics.
If you're searching for a most entertaining adventure resulting in dinosaur-sized laughter and red hands from applauding, visit UMPO JURASSIC PARK. It's a wild ride!