As you may recall, my friend Sean and I wrote a play for the Pocket Sandwich Theatre here in Dallas. The play, Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir, was an audience participation melodrama, where audience members are invited to cheer the hero, boo the villain, and hurl prodigious amounts of popcorn at the actors on the stage.
Last night was our opening night, and it went swimmingly! Magnificently! Brilliantly! The jokes worked, the cast clicked, and the audience was totally into the whole participation thing. There were a handful of technical glitches, but I have to say these guys totally knocked it out of the park!
For those of you among my threes of faithful readers who won't be able to attend a showing, here's a handy rundown on the play straight from the Pocket Sandwich Theatre website:
From the unashamed authors of "Escape from Stalag 18" comes this gripping tale of "Captain Phantasm," a costumed hero trained in the mysterious and inscrutable fighting techniques of the Orient as he faces "Dr. Noir," a nefarious criminal mastermind with impeccable fashion sense, a melodramatic flair, and no fear of popcorn. Mix in characters such as "Pretty Perfect," a beautiful reporter with moxie, spunk, and chutzpah out the yin-yang; and "Mittens" and "Fluffy," two lovely but fiendishly deadly vixens, and what have you got? Uh - we're not sure, but we'll let you know when we figure it out.
Sean and I staged it as an episode of Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, broadcast on Radio KPST in 1941. We ended each act with a cliffhanger and totally cheated to get the heroes out of their jam. For example, Act II ends with Captain Phantasm and intrepid reporter Pretty Perfect surrounded by gun-wielding mobsters. The stage goes dark, we hear blasts of machine gun fire, and the words TO BE CONTINUED... appear on the screen. When Act III begins, we once again see the Captain and Pretty surrounded by the mobsters. This time, Captain Phantasm yells "Duck and cover!" and pushes Pretty to the ground as the mobsters open fire and kill each other.
Our "broadcast" is hosted by Wink Walters, an unctious emcee who stands on a side stage and provides helpful narration to move the story along. He also does commercials for the imaginary sponsors of Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour, such as Sophisticate Cigarettes ("They're mild, good-tasting, and agree with your throat.") and Auntie Lou's Homestyle All-Purpose Flour ("Now with 30% fewer mites and weevils!")
The commercials were a blast to write. Sean and I set out to make them as sexist and scientifically inaccurate as possible. My favorite was the ad that opened up Act II:
(The spotlight falls on the EMCEE, who is standing on the side stage with the microphone. MITTENS and FLUFFY are standing to either side of him.)
Welcome back to Mystery Adventure Time Theater Hour on Radio KPST, brought to you by Marvey Mint Chewing Gum... for the ladies. Chewing Marvey Mint will keep your facial contours youthful and keep your breath fresh and clean. So ladies, if you need a special man in your life, or if you simply want to hold on to the one you have, remember...
(MITTENS and FLUFFY lean into the microphone to sing.)
MITTENS and FLUFFY
Tired of being an old maid
'Coz bad breath rained on your parade?
Let Marvey Mint come to your aid!
Our chewing gum will get you...
Into a loving relationship with the man of your dreams. Marvey Mint.
Our first two nights have sold out, so here's hoping the rest of the run is just as successful. If you live in the DFW area or happen to be visiting between now and May 16, I hope you'll swing by the Pocket Sandwich Theatre and check out the show!
Captain Phantasm vs. the Nefarious Dr. Noir