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MORE ON 'NY Musical Theatre Festival: Wild Women of Planet Wongo'

A Trip to the Stars, With Phasers Set on Spoof

Published: September 20, 2005

The quest for senseless fun takes the creators of "Wild Women of Planet Wongo" to the ends of the B-movie galaxy, but the search is inconclusive. As labored as it is lavishly mounted, this new musical gets more wrong than right. Its spoofy goofing is as tiring as it is tireless.

First, the good news. The production design, by Andrew Rubenoff, is an unfailingly tacky parade of deep-dish sci-fi-fantasy stylings. Planets and other heavenly bodies glow in black light; plastic, fur and foam predominate in props and scenic elements. The lusty Amazons of the title are bedecked in sparkling, outrageously pneumatic minidresses (costumes designed by Marie Anne Chiment) and huge, Byzantine wigs (hair by Jon Jordan). Their imposing queen, Rita (Alicia Irving), sports a cotton-candy hairpiece on a headdress that makes her resemble a cross between Ming the Merciless and Ursula of "The Little Mermaid."

And most of the cast, including the diva-licious Ms. Irving, strikes the right tone of prefabricated silliness. As Space Captain Ric Rogers, stranded on Wongo with his chubby sidekick, Louie (Max Perlman), and their mincing robot, Hermie (Daniel C. Levine), Heath Calvert has a gently daffy touch with lines like, "How do they run like that in those heels?" As his love interest, Princess Belinda, Natalie Silverlieb makes the most of her character's capricious turns, and nails a funny girl-group ballad, "I Will Not Eat My Love."

But much of the would-be laughs are lost in space. The script, by Steve Mackes, based on "a concept by Ben Budick," is a half-baked hodgepodge that overreaches to set up big song-and-dance numbers, which are mostly generically retro sock hops (the poppy music is by Dave Ogrin, the so-so choreography by Ginger Thatcher). Directed energetically by Doug Moser, this intergalactic romp nevertheless needs some serious re-engineering to get it past blastoff.

Wild Women of Planet Wongo

Samuel Beckett Theater
410 West 42nd Street
Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m and Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets: (212) 352-3101

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