By Michael Buzzelli
Pippa Peterson (Molly Twigg) of Pluto, Pennsylvania (say that five times fast), is the only eyewitness when a cow is beamed aboard an alien spacecraft in “Abduction,” a musical comedy about some very spacey space invaders.
Pippa goes on a quest to save the town from the alien intruders. Soon, she’s surrounded by unlikely allies; her best friend and chronic people-pleaser, Teddy (Cade Teribery), her one-hit-wonder mom, Lydia (Jamiya Forna), formerly of “Phat Booty” fame, her new love interest, Quinn(Nandita Mahesh) and the jingoistic Mayor O’Neill (Hayden Bobbyn), who can’t get through a sentence with out “Praising the Lord.”
The moronic mayor and the misfits have to face off against the big boss, Ziggy (Emma Schuszler) and her horde of extras to save the Pennsylvanian Plutonians from being the punchline of an SNL sketch version of the Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man.”
When Pippa is knocked unconscious after being transported onto the alien spaceship at the top of act two, she delves into a delightful dream sequence, replete with veritable smorgasbord of lesbian icons, including Megan Rapinoe, Scooby Doo’s Velma and the X-Files Agent Scully. They trot out in a scene that could rival the West Hollywood Halloween parade.
Twigg is a fascinating lead. She is a joy to watch as she stumbles around trying to save the townspeople and discover her inner truths.
Mahesh seems to juxtapose her enthusiasm in all the right ways. Her Quinn is a sullen, sarcastic Goth chick with a big heart hiding under her basic black.
Teribery’s Teddy is the comic relief with his own layering. The actor does a outstanding job. He plays it big and broad, but knows when to underplay the darker, moodier bits of dialogue, such as when he is trying to calculate unbelievable odds and lands the line, “There’s a better chance of me having dinner with my father.”
Winner of the “There are no small parts Category” is Lauren Taylor (Zoey and Sally Ride). She’s a terrific dancer, and has big stage presence.
Another winner is costume designer Maya Jones for nailing the “corny” puns with a collection of Corn-Fest t-shirts and the magnificent dream sequence characters. The Velma looked like she stepped out of the cartoon.
The production is deftly directed by one of the show’s creators, Becki Toth. Toth, who is a true talent on stage, is equally comfortable behind the scenes. She gets some star performances out of a gigantic cast.
The ensemble is immense, and, truth be told, a bit uneven, but don’t let that stop you. Creators T.J. Pieffer, Brad Kemp and Toth put on a silly show filled with clever lines with a deeper meaning underneath.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” or in the words oft-attributed to 18th Century, Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, ““The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
On the surface, “Abduction: A Musical Comedy” is a silly, little musical about aliens, cow mutilations, a corn festival and a high school over-achiever, but under that glossy veneer, it’s a story about the nature of complacency.
If you’ve guessed by now with a mention of lesbianism and some sarcastic dialogue about hiding under a veil of religion, the show is not designed for conservative Republicans (do not save a seat for Mike Pence). But if you’re up for an evening of zany Sci-Fi fun, vote Pippa!
“Abduction” runs from April 7 – 16 at the Charity Randall Theatre, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. For more information, click here.