|Photo by Laurie Etchen|
|No, it's not Lost: The Musical, but a tuneful trip to Gilligan's Island.|
Sometimes a title says it all. You know what you are getting with Gilligan's Island: The Musical: seven castaways on an uncharted island engaging in hijinks and comedic adventures.
Minneapolis Musical Theatre takes the trip starting this weekend at the Illusion Theater. The musical has been on the shortlist of shows for the theater for a number of years, but was not included on the original season announcement. In its place was another bit of musical nostalgia: Xanadu.
However, just after the announcement was made, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres exercised its rights over the show, leaving MMT with a hole in the schedule. Filling it "wasn't hard, as we had just announced the schedule," says director Steven Meerdink.
The company went back to its list of wants, and thought that Gilligan's Island would be a perfect fit. "It's light, fun, and summery," Meerdink says.
What Meerdink found was a script that stayed close to what has made the show endure across four decades. Part of that comes from the creators, who were responsible for the original program.
"It's an homage to the show and the characters," he says. "The play pokes a little fun at the characters and the familiar situations, but it really is like an episode of the show."
Fans of the TV show -- admit it, you've spent plenty of time in your life watching it -- may be disappointed to learn that none of the situations in the musical are drawn directly from the program. So, no Harlem Globetrotters or a musical Hamlet.
That doesn't mean there isn't some outlandish material. Meerdink doesn't want to talk too much about specifics, but there is an alien listed on the play roster.
The cast features Ryan Levin, Ryan Grimes, Angela Fox, Marlin Rothe, Joyce Norman, Joe Hendren, and Rebecca Gebhart as our favorite castaways, and Andrew Newman as that mysterious alien.
The piece is a musical, so along with the familiar theme song there is a whole host of original songs included in the show. The music cuts a real eclectic swath, from a soft-shoe for Gilligan to a romantic waltz for the Howells.
For the actors, there have been a couple of major challenges. "They have to emulate that familiar character, with mannerisms and voice, and then they have to expand it because there is no camera. Everything they do has to play to the back of the theater," Meerdink says.
It all provides a way to go back to the innocent days of endless afternoon repeats, when the Minnow Seven faced a new crisis everyday and never managed to fix a three-inch hole in their boat.
"A lot of people have a soft spot for the show," Meerdink says.
IF YOU GO:
Gilligan's Island: The Musical
The Illusion Theater
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
8th Fl., 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
For information, call 612.339.4944 or visit online
528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN