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November 1, 2002

November 1, 2002

A galactic sendup for 'Star Wars' lovers

By David C. Nichols
Before launching "Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes," an announcer concludes the usual admonishments about cell phones and photographs with a caution to "keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times."

She isn't joking. This U.S. premiere of adapter-director Patrick T. Gorman's bargain-basement truncation of George Lucas' tripartite sci-fi epic negotiates the Coronet Theatre's upstairs space at warp speed, packing the wallop of a whiffle-bat light saber. A smash at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival, "Star Wars" recalls every junior high assembly ever encountered. Office chairs with Christmas-lighted legs serve as battling spacecraft, robot R2D2 is a plastic trash can, ad infinitum.

The ensemble is a high-octane machine, walking the tightrope between representation and sendup in a manner recalling the glory days of Second City, if not the earlier, funny episodes of "Saturday Night Live."

As Luke Skywalker, James Snyder decimates Mark Hamill's chipper attack. Mark Kelly's Han Solo and Maia Peters' Princess Leia carry deadpan echoes of Mike Myers and Janeane Garofalo.

Scott Walker Mullin switches from Darth Vader to Chewbacca on the dime left over from the show's budget. Steve Josephson is hilarious as both fey C-3PO and incomprehensible Yoda. Jason Major's Emperor and Michael Cornacchia's Jabba the Hutt defy description, and their coevals are all rib-tickling.

There is no substance here beyond the one-joke premise. But that joke stretches to galactic levels, recommending "Star Wars" to fans and detractors alike. May the Farce be with you.

-- David C. Nichols

"Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes," Upstairs at the Coronet, 368 La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. Ends Nov. 23. $15. (310) 657-7377, (213) 365-3500. Running time: 30 minutes.

October 28, 2002

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes
(Coronet Theatre Upstairs; 140 seats; $15 top)
A Festival Theatre USA presentation of a play in one act adapted and directed by Patrick T. Gorman.
Luke Skywalker - James Snyder
Princess Leia - Maia Peters
Han Solo - Mark Kelly
Darth Vader/Chewbacca - Scott Walker Mullin
C-3PO/Grand Moff Tarkin/Yoda - Steve Josephson
Obi-Wan Kenobi/Gamorrean Guard - Alan Lennick
Lando Calrissian/Wampa - Howard D. William Yates
Jawa/Greedo/Tauntaun/Emperor/Lobot/EV-9D9 - Jason Major
Captain Needa/Ackbar/Jabba the Hutt - Michael Cornacchia
Uncle Owen/Rieekan/Bib Fortuna/Nien Numb - Mark Reilly
Aunt Beru/Wedge/Boba Fett/Wickett Leigh - Anne Goodoff
Gamorrean Guard/Paploo - Patrick T. Gorman

Before you can blurt out "let the force be with you," adapter/director Patrick T. Gorman unleashes his cast of 12 in a hilarious, high-energy spoof of George Lucas' classic trilogy. A smash hit at the 1999 Edinburgh Festival, now receiving its U.S. premiere, "Trilogy" demonstrates that six hours and 13 minutes of film can be compressed into a 30-minute play when sharply edited, fueled with powerhouse pacing and joyously abandoned portrayals.

Action and dialogue strike at supersonic speed as we meet farmboy Luke Skywalker (James Snyder), who learns to use the force and become a Jedi; cool mercenary Han Solo (Mark Kelly); quick-witted Princess Leia (Maia Peters) and Prince of Darkness Darth Vader (Scott Walker Mullin). Crisis overlaps crisis: Princess Leia needs to be rescued, Luke fights Vader and loses his hand, Han Solo is frozen into a carbonized state, Luke, Chewbacca and Han are nearly crushed to death in a refuse compactor, and Luke is saved at the end by Vader, who proves to be his dad and Princess Leia's as well.

"Star Wars" devotees can recite these events in their sleep. Show's fun is watching the professional equivalent of backyard buddies acting out their favorite characters. Lucas celebrates the magic of childhood, and Gorman catches the essence of the source material. James Snyder's Luke, decked out in white karate suit and running shoes, is a masterpiece of wide-eyed innocence. He effortlessly conveys bravery, and the humor of his interpretation stems from a sense of not quite grasping circumstances surrounding him, but gamely dashing into danger.

Mark Kelly's Han, all self-confident swagger and ego, amusingly suggests Harrison Ford while maintaining his own individuality. Equally amusing is Maia Peters' Princess Leia, duplicating Carrie Fisher's spunkiness and adding an attractively tough edge.

Steve Josephson's Yoda, in gray bathrobe, arms up to his ears and thumbs out, steals every scene he appears in, and Michael Cornacchia's Jabba the Hutt, a partially nude galactic Buddha, mugs magnificently. Howard D. William Yates catches the cockiness of Lando Calrissian and Scott Walker Mullin, in dual role, projects the viciousness of Vader and the eccentric appeal of Chewbacca.

Gorman's staging is unfailingly imaginative when members of the cast hit the sky in the Millennium Falcon and indicate motion by shifting bodies side to side or throwing heads back in perfect synchronization. Ordinary items become props when Obi-Wan and Darth fight with wiffleball bat lightsabers and Luke's X-Wing starfighter is a folding chair, held overhead, with flashing red lights. Sparse stage, except for a few black boxes, is an asset, offering room for the gymnastic action to unfold freely, and the actors do their own, comedically campy sound effects under the clever vocal direction of Howard William D. Yates.

With the exception of Luke, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Alan Lennick's convincingly wise Obi-Wan-Kenobi, cast tackles multiple parts, making each personality comprehensible no matter how boisterous situations become. By the end, it's clear why creator George Lucas gave his blessing to the show after viewing a special rendition at Skywalker Ranch.
Sets, John Edw. Blankenchip; lighting, Trevor Stirlin Burk; vocal effects director, Howard D. William Yates; stage manager, Rikki Jues. Opened, reviewed Oct. 25, 2002; closes Nov. 23. Running Time: 30 MIN.

October 31, 2002
Southern CA October 30, 2002

Star Wars Trilogy In 30 Minutes

Reviewed By Jenelle Riley

Here's one show the title of which tells you exactly what you're getting into, and there's something to be said for truth in advertising. Trilogy in 30 Minutes is just that, the entire Star Wars saga condensed into a fast and furious staging. OK, maybe it's not the entire series--technically, it's no longer a trilogy but a five-parter--but we're talking only about the good Star Wars movies here. Perhaps in a few years we can expect a retelling of the best moments of Episodes 1-3 performed in 10 minutes. You do have to be very familiar with the films to follow the action, and even the most hard-core enthusiast might take a moment to comprehend what's happening in some scenes, but Trilogy is a must for any true fan. Playwright/director Patrick T. Gorman clearly knows his material and delivered on the daunting task of choosing the highlights from each story. He stages his action with an admirable minimalism, using ordinary objects like chairs and flashlights in lieu of grand special effects.

He's aided by a terrific cast whose performances walk the delicate line between homage and parody. A spot-on James Snyder makes a better Luke Skywalker than Mark Hamill ever did. As Han Solo, Mark Kelly perfectly captures the smug deadpan delivery Harrison Ford brought to his early role. And Steve Josephson's alternating among C-3PO, Yoda, and Grand Moff Tarkin is a feat of amazing choreography. Other standouts include Howard D. William Yates as a hip-swinging Lando Calrissian in full Colt 45 mode and Michael Cornacchia, who is memorable in several roles but will be forever burned in my memory as Jabba the Hutt in very small underwear. It's a blast to watch the group of talented performers who clearly share the audience's affection for the classic saga.

Only two minor quibbles. I wish there had been a little less straightforward telling of the story and more insider satire. When Snyder recalls the classic blunder from Star Wars in which Mark Hamill called Carrie Fisher by her name, the house roared in appreciation at the clever send-up. Secondly, how can you stage Return of the Jedi and not at least mention the gold bikini?
November 7, 2002

is — speaking from a geek’s point of view — the kind of show geeks must do to amuse themselves. Watch ing these mostly USC grads, trained in Shakespeare and Shepard, perform the Star Wars trilogy is like watching Jean-Paul Gautier do a geriatric girdle — probably not the best use of talent, but damn, what a girdle! Patrick T. Gorman’s adaptation of this beloved sci-fi epic involves every actor at all times, either playing one of their multiple roles or producing classic S.W. sound effects such as the "waaaanwaaaan" of the light sabers and the ominous chanting that accompanies the Emperor’s chilling entrance. It’s fast, full of spot-on parody, worth enough chuckles to carry the half-hour and, if nothing else, validates those elementary years when re-enacting the trilogy with Kenner action figures seemed like such a waste of time to our undercultured parents. Coronet Theater (upstairs), 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 10:30 p.m.; thru Nov. 23. (310) 657-7377. Written 11/7/02 (Luis Reyes)

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes
•  Next: 11/15, 10:30PM;
  Upstairs at the Coronet  
  368 N. La Cienaga Blvd.
2nd Floor
LA, CA 90048
•  Click here for a complete schedule

Millions of American kids have wielded Wiffle bats as light sabers and sat in chairs imagined to be X Wing Fighters while acting out their favorite scenes from the Star Wars films. Now USC grad Patrick T. Gorman puts these childhood fantasies on the stage, writing and directing a warp-speed conflation of the first three films (the good ones), that depicts a merry band of 12 actors flying through almost seven hours of celluloid in 30 minutes.

Props are intentionally ordinary -- R2D2 is an actor holding a garbage can topped by a stainless steel bowl -- which magnifies the childlike intensity and hilarity of the show. Gorman's raucous 30-minute adventure was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival in 1999 and received the blessing of George Lucas himself -- the most eminent Jedi of them all -- after a command performance at the director's Skywalker Ranch earlier this year. -- Christopher Cappiello   (Photo: Michael Lamont)

Arts & Culture: Comedy, Theater
Phone Number: 310-657-7377
Star Wars in Thirty Minutes
By Melinda Schupmann
The Star Wars Trilogy has spawned an empire of its own. Action figures, Halloween costumes, videos, expressions well-known in the lexicon ("May the force be with you,"), and 758 pages of merchandise on ebay can contribute to the notion that it is a "force" to be reckoned with. In 1995, Patrick T. Gorman, along with a cadre of graduate students in the U.S.C. theater program, took a funny little play to the Edinburgh Festival, where it has returned ever since. Finally, it is being presented in its U.S. premiere at the Coronet, where it arrived amid storm troopers and an eager group of fans.
Cast in multiple roles, this earnest group presents one of the wackiest, most entertaining shows currently playing in the city. Using lines straight from the movies, they deliver the whole story in thirty minutes, as advertised. At breakneck speed they hurl themselves around the stage re-inventing the story with some of the funniest props since "Hardware Wars", the movie.
Luke Skywalker (James Snyder), Princess Leia (Maia Peters), and Han Solo (Mark Kelly)are the only single-role players in the show. The rest of the cast : Scott Walker Mullin, Steve Josephson, Alan Lennick, Howard D. William Yates, Jason Major, Michael Cornacchia, Mark Reilly, Leigh Anne Goodoff, and even Gorman himself play such diverse characters as Chewbacca, C-3PO, and guards and natives of the Empire itself. This is true ensemble work, and it really pays off. Particularly notable are Josephson, Yates, and Mullin as Yoda, Calrissian, and Chewbacca.
Office chairs disguised as X-Wing Fighters, light sabers made from plastic bats, an R2D2 fashioned from a plastic wastebasket are just a few of the hilarious props created to give an authentic atmosphere. Sound effects are rampant, mostly done by the cast. A tiny stage creates an intimate atmosphere, where cast and audience can be up close and personal.
On a side note, the original Jabba the Hut was a most horrifyingly disgusting villain in the film. But he had nothing on Cornacchia's portrayal, which has to be seen to be believed. In fact, the whole show is an imaginative piece of theater which should be required viewing for all folks who love comedy, audacity, and invention. To say too much about the experience would spoil the fun. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes, presented by Festival Theatre USA with the exclusive permission of Lucasfilm, Coronet Theatre Upstairs, 368 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 657-7377(Box Office) or Ticketmaster (213) 365-3500. Friday and Saturday at 10:30 P.M. $15.00.