“Men don’t get scared, Paula,” Jeff Trent, played by senior Jake Hanssen, says multiple times to his wife Paula Trent, played by senior GiGi Buddie, in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Musical. EPiC’s humorous parody of a 1959 American science fiction horror film.
The play’s script comes directly from the original film of the same name that was written, produced, directed and edited by Ed Wood. In 1980, it received Golden Turkey Awards for Worst Director Ever and Worst Film. This negative publicity created a significant cult following for the film, even resulting in a television sitcom, according to Wikipedia.
Movie critics mocked everything, from the film’s sometimes painful dialogue to its bloopers and not-so-special effects, according to Mental Floss. Yet these are the things its legion of fans love.
David Smith, a drama teacher at Drake High School for 26 years, obtained the rights to the script many years ago.
“The play basically takes the script from the worst movie ever made and puts musical numbers in it,” Smith said.
Smith wrote all thirteen musical numbers and directed the production. His musical has also been produced in various U.S. cities and London. Smith’s music pokes fun at the melodramatic and poorly written script as well as the fears and stereotypes of the 1950s. Trilling musical notes highlight the overly dramatic moments. Multiple lyrics address the ridiculousness of seeing flying UFOs over Hollywood and gender-related prejudices (“It takes a whole lotta man to bring the zombies down” is the refrain of one song). In addition, the kaleidoscopic lighting reflects the vibrant colors popular in the 1950s.
Redwood junior Amira Jain, who stars as both Edie and Army Man, says she feels the strange humor added to the audience’s enjoyment.
“I’m most excited for people to see the show, because it’s very funny and no one really knows what it is,” Jain said.
The original script tells the story of extraterrestrials who want to stop humans from creating a doomsday weapon that could destroy the universe. The aliens implement “Plan 9″―a scheme to resurrect the Earth’s dead. The aliens hope the ensuing chaos will force human beings to listen to them. If not, the aliens plan to destroy the earthlings with armies of the undead.
Catchy music and comedic acting are the primary attractions of the play, explained junior Jackson Beer, who plays Dead Old Man and Kelton in the production.
“It’s so hard to keep a straight face,” Jain said.
Beer similarly felt that the toughest performance test was not reacting to the humor in the show.
“[It’s hard] not laughing on stage because a lot of the show is very funny. So always staying in character would be the hardest thing,” Beer said.
Criswell, the play’s narrator as portrayed by Redwood junior Leela Dembowski, fears the death of the nation and our civilization, common concerns in the 1950s.The nation was still coming to grips with the frightening implications of potential nuclear destruction after the atomic bombings in Japan at the end of World War II. The ensuing race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to stockpile nuclear weapons added to the general fear for the planet.
In addition, the Space Race era began in the 1950s with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. competing for supremacy in space, as well as aggressively launching rockets to reach the moon and other planets. The possible existence and discovery of extraterrestrial life and civilizations sparked people’s imagination as well as their fears.
Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Musical played from Oct. 3 to Oct. 8 in the Little Theatre at 7 p.m. each night for 1.5 hours.