Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Mars

Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Mars

At the very beginning of our adventure into the imaginative mind of America's Storyteller, Ray Bradbury, co-creator Charlie Mount speaks directly to the audience while appearing to cast a spell using a red crystal ball held in his hand, while informing us that Bradbury always wanted to put people he grew up with on Mars. Calling himself a writer of moral fantasy, Bradbury is probably best known for his Science Fiction novels Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles. He encouraged any audience members wanting to be a novelist to first write one short story a day for year, much the same as he did on a rented typewriter in a UCLA library basement at the beginning of his career.

Most of the MARTIANS text is taken from Ray's own words from interviews and books he's written on the art of writing, Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Marsas well as adaptations of his Martian stories The Strawberry Window, The Blue Bottle, The Messiah and Night Call, Collect. Adapted with and directed by Jeff G. Rack, Mount personifies Bradbury to a tee as, acting as our guide to mankind's next great adventure to the planet Mars, allowing us to get to know the mind and heart of the great writer who believes that humanity can only survive by carrying our culture out into the Universe. In fact, one of Bradbury's favorite films was Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. "Going to the stars, taking your culture with you, and living forever! That's what it's all about!" Bradbury said. That's the theme explored in MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH Ray Bradbury.

As Bradbury, Charlie Mount speaks directly to the audience Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Marsweaving Martians' stories both humorous and harrowing, bringing his characters to life on stage right before our eyes though an interested assortment of characters like Bob and Carrie (Michael Perl and Melissa Lugo), a young couple from The Strawberry Window who are struggling to turn the cold, dead Mars into an Earthly garden while longing for the comforts of the home they left behind on Earth. Their desire to turn Mars into the best of all possible worlds first threatens to tear them apart, finally uniting all the stories being presented.

Next, we meet Beck and Craig (Paul Gunning and Joe Seely), Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Marstwo soldiers of fortune searching for the legendary Blue Bottle of Mars, with Bradbury reminding us the best stories contain a character who wants and needs something. Turns out what's in the bottle is something all men want, although the two have no idea what that might be. But will their search destroy their friendship when the bottle is discovered and its contents are revealed?

When Beck vanishes with The Blue Bottle, Review: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on MarsCraig decides to hold a church service for his missing friend, taking the evening's stories into a religious turn as stained-glass window projections designed by Gabrieal Griego take us inside the only Church on Mars where Father Niven's (Eric Keitel) religious faith traps a shapeshifting Martian (Robert Paterno, with Tor Brown stepping into the roles as of October 19) in the form of The Messiah. Will Bishop Kelly (John T. Cogan) be convinced the vision is real or just the fantasies of a madman? The two priests go on to discuss God at length, a most interesting discussion for those so inclined to ponder the very existence of reality.

The 75-minute performance ended with Bradbury asking us, "What if we lose our dreams?" to begin the most engaging story of the evening, Night Call, Collect, in which we are introducedReview: World Premiere MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY Takes Audiences on an Imaginative Journey to Life on Mars to the older Emil Barton (Don Moss), the last man on Mars who only has recordings of his younger self to keep him company. But will the pre-arranged yearly phone call on his birthday comfort him or drive him mad when visions of his younger self (Richard Mooney) seem to be haunting him, especially during the last call from Captain Rockwell, the pilot of a rescue craft which has landed 600 miles away, convinces the older Barton to drive all night to see a human again. Of course, after wearing himself out to the point of death, the older Barton realizes Rockwell is none other than a prank call set up by his younger self to perhaps assist with ending his life ata much-older age.

The point of the final story seems to be that people will lose our connection to everyone else if we only speak to each other electronically. So, as we exist here in the middle between living in caves and among the stars, perhaps it's time to put down all the electronics and share our thoughts through the mind-expanding wonder created by reading a book, allowing our imaginations to soar so that we really can live forever on the printed page, just as Ray Bradbury undoubtedly will.

The world premiere of MARTIANS: AN EVENING WITH Ray Bradbury, is presented by Arcane Theatreworks and Whitefire Theatre from September 7- November 2, 2018, on Fridays at 8:00 p.m. Also, Saturday, November 3at 8:00 p.m.at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Suitable for family audiences ages 8 to adult. General admission tickets are $30, $20 children and students, by calling (800) 838-3006 or online at www.whitefiretheatre.com. Arrive early for street parking, with Valet parking available (fee charged) at Augustine Wine Bar, ½ block east of the theatre.

Photo credit: Eric Keitel, Christine Zirbel and Charlie Mount

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