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Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013

Off the Wall's Christmas Camp

Sci-Fi Meets Santa in ‘The Creature from the Black, Black Lagoon’

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Dale Gutzman and his zany Off The Wall Theatre troupe have solidified their slippery, web-fingered grasp on holiday camp with their hilarious mashup, The Creature from the Black, Black Lagoon.

Spoofing the 1954 film classic that has become its own parody some 60 years later, this Creature is the creative spawn of Off the Wall Artistic Director Gutzman using the cinematic storyline as its structure. But throw in some Christmas references (really negligible and unneeded), sexual double entendres, recycled songs and wacky, over-the-top “acting” and this spoof soars above the murky lower depths where “it” resides.

Gutzman, along with scenic wiz David Roper, provide a clever bit of staging using the area beneath the stage as the “lagoon.” It provides loads of laughs due in large part to the terrific performance by Mark Hagen as marine biologist Kay Laverne, the creature’s love object. As much as we all want to see the creature in action, it is Hagen who maintains the audience’s focus throughout as the lovesick assistant pining away for her nerdy, doltish boss Dr. David Reed (well played by Off the Wall veteran Jeremy C. Welter). Can the crew capture the beast and reap financial rewards back in civilization? Will Kay capture the heart of her boss? And what is up with the Creature and Kay duetting on “White Christmas”?

Hagen makes all the right moves and gestures within his female impersonation, displaying a keen awareness of his character while maintaining a comedic balancing act between parody and believability. This lagoon clearly belongs to Kay; the fish man just swims there.

And Jack Forbes Wilson’s charming musical arrangements of “Teamwork” and the well-chosen “Moonlight Becomes You” fit the campy vibe like hand in glove. (Better make that a webbed hand in a waterproof glove.) “Scary” never looked and sounded so funny during the holidays in Milwaukee.

The Creature from the Black, Black Lagoon runs through Dec. 29 (with a sold out performance Dec. 31) at Off the Wall Theatre, 127 E. Wells St. For tickets, call 414-484-8874 or visit offthewalltheatre.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAGS: Off the Wall Theatre, The Creature from the Black, Black Lagoon, Harry Cherkinian, Dale Gutzman, David Roper, Mark Hagen, Jeremy C. Welter, Jack Forbes Wilson