Geekenders have pulled off another musical mashup with Jurassic Parody: The Musical, and while the show lacks the energy of previous productions, it makes up for it with an abundance of heart.
Leads Annette Reilly (Ellie Sattler) and Rob Gillespie (John Hammond) are solid with a professional skill set of vocals and acting chops, while the comedic stylings of Graeme Thompson (Ian Malcolm) and Stephen Blakley (Alan Grant) are well used. But while Thompson’s cheeky grin and snarky one-liners add pop to the show, Blakeley’s usual deadpan doesn’t differentiate itself from the low energy of the show enough to stand out. The 1993 film Jurassic Park was a pop culture phenomenon whose key plot points still resonate with audiences today. From Dennis Nedry’s silly string virus to Ian Malcolm’s obsession with math and leather, Jurassic Parody succeeds in adding a new flavour to those favourite movie moments, with a wink of something more.
And that is the difficulty with this show. The energy begins to wane early in the first act due to the number of static “park and bark” numbers. While those songs are beautifully executed, they are often down-tempo or are so musically complex you see the effort pulling the smiles from the performers’ faces.
That said, there are always exceptions, and Alison Jenkins, as Tyrannosaurus Rex, is it. Jenkins holds the stage in her iron claw. Her performance of “Tyrannosaur’s Lament”, a subtle rejig of “Whatever happened to my part?” from Spamalot, is absolutely riveting. The costuming (Fairlith Harvey, Shayan Naziripour) also deserves mention. The film’s human characters all are precisely recreated, but the creative interpretation of velociraptors (known here as velocitappers), triceratops, and T-rex into human form are absolutely stunning.
With a couple of musical parodies winning pick of the Vancouver Fringe this year, it seems like it’s finally time to admit that the genre is here to stay. The trick though is to keep the comedy as tight as the tap line. Geekenders hits many high notes in this production but struggles to keep the energy up. Still, it’s an entertaining night out.
Jurassic Parody: The Musical by Geekenders. Directed by Beni Spieler. A Geekenders production. On stage at the York Theatre (639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver) until November 22nd. Visit https://geekenders.ca for tickets and information.