Gremlins – A Live Holiday Parody @ Cherokee Street Theatre Company

Gremlins – A Live Holiday Parody @ Cherokee Street Theatre Company


One company is not enough to satisfy our town’s
appetite for one-hour pop culture parodies. A new group aimed at filling this niche has
just emerged. It’s the Cherokee Street Theater Company,
founded by Ron Strawbridge and Suki Peters, who are veterans of the original parody troupe,
Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre. Cherokee Street’s first production was a
delightful live parody of “Gremlins,” the 1984 horror comedy written by Chris Columbus
and directed by Joe Dante. The story is set in motion when Rand Peltzer
encounters an impossibly cute animal called a Mogwai in a Chinese curio shop. He is determined to buy it as a Christmas
present for his son, but the proprietor refuses to sell. Even so, his grandson completes the transaction
because the family needs the money. The purchase comes with three warning. Don’t expose the Mogwai to light, don’t
get it wet, and don’t feed it after midnight. When these rules are accidentally broken,
the adorable Mogwai named Gizmo multiplies, and the offspring turn evil. Pandemonium ensues in the little town of Kingston
Falls. I watched the original film just before seeing
the adaptation, and I was impressed with how well writer-director Suki Peters, condensed
the action. I think the parody would have made sense even
if I were unfamiliar with story. The satire and incidental humor were as abundant
and funny as in any show of this sort I have seen. I was especially impressed with how well the
production parodied scenes with special effects. The diminutive Gremlins were hilariously portrayed
by full-sized actors as well as puppets. The staging cleverly used the sides of the
theater as well as the stage. The actors all focused on entertaining the
audience rather than amusing themselves. Bob Thibaut had exactly the right mixture
of sweetness and denseness as Billy Peltzer, Gizmo’s human caretaker. Everyone one else in the cast had multiple
parts and played them with flair. The performers were Jesse Kwe as Gizmo, Payton
Gillam, Kyle Kostecki, Rachel Bailey, Joe Cella, Patience Davis, Brennan Eller, Victor
Mendez, and Joseph Garner . There was admirable work in Chris Ware and
Madelyn Boyne’s set design, Amy Kelly’s puppets and visual effects, Kayla Lindsay’s
costumes, Ted Drury’s sound, Kevin Bowman’s lighting, Stan Davis pod designs, Bob Thibaut’s
fight direction, Rachel Bailey’s vocal coaching, and Fox Smith’s scenic art. After such an auspicious debut, I look forward
to more hijinks from Cherokee Street Theater Company.

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