This undated image released by Jim Randolph Media Relations shows, standing from left, Alex Wyse, Claire Neumann, Wade McCollum, Shelley Thomas and Lindsay Nicole Chambers, in a scene from “Triassic Parq The Musical,” performing off-Broadway at The SoHo Playhouse in New York. (AP Photo/Jim Randolph Media Relations, Carol Rosegg)
NEW YORK (AP) — Pre-history would sound very different if dinosaurs could tell their own stories. Especially if they were raucously singing and dancing while dealing with identity crises and gender morphing and sudden doubts about the belief system that has always ruled their lives.
A troupe of leaping, singing dinosaurs are the true rock stars of the deeply funny “Triassic Parq, The Musical,” which opened Wednesday night for a limited run off-Broadway at The SoHo Playhouse.
This hilarious, raunchy satire, with witty book and lyrics by “Destiny,” (Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Stephen Wargo), is loosely based on details from the 1990 book “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, which became a successful 1993 sci-fi thriller movie of the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg. There was no singing or dancing in either of those works. But to avoid confusing the lawyers, the musical’s added slogan is “The Q Stands For Truth.”
Pailet’s direction is swift and sure, working with inventive choreography by Kyle Mullins and musical direction by Zak Sandler (Pianosaurus). The whole cast is terrific and energetic, colorfully costumed and prowling around the spooky, tropical-themed set while “Morgan Freeman” and/or “Samuel L. Jackson” alternately narrate (a commandingly arch portrayal by Lee Seymour.)
On an island off Costa Rica, dinosaurs live behind an electrified fence while being studied by human researchers. The tribe is led by their Pastor, aka Velociraptor of Faith, played with masterly reptilian brio by Wade McCollum. The happy dinos have unwavering faith in Lab, “the laboratory deity” populated by “all its little humans”, that provides them daily with goats to eat.
Until the day when youthful Velociraptor of Innocence (Alex Wyse, engagingly girlish) starts to question Pastor’s judgment. All Parq animals must be female, to avoid breeding outside Lab, so when T-Rex 2 (Claire Neumann, inspired in her she-he-ness) suddenly sprouts a penis, Pastor decrees she must be exiled, and separated forever from her BFF, T-Rex 1 (Shelley Thomas, increasingly ferocious.)
Outraged, Innocence breaks away from the tribe herself and, while roaming around the dangerous tropical jungle, discovers heretical, angry Velociraptor of Science living in a cave (Lindsay Nicole Chambers, fierce yet bubbly.) All heck breaks loose when Science clashes with Faith, and a roaringly angry T-Rex 1 escapes the compound and goes on a rampage.
The cast is rounded out by Brandon Espinoza as Mime-a-saurus, who has an insanely animated star turn near the finale. The production team must be congratulated for creating the sounds and sights of a prehistoric jungle on a very small stage, with special kudos for the goat puppets
This is no sweet Dinotopia, so don’t bring the young kids. Even though the phalluses and blood are artfully made of fabric, there are many sexual references and curses that would be confusing for them. For savvy teenagers and adults, though, this is one of the funniest psuedo-docudramas you’ll ever see, if you can hear it over the howls of laughter from the audience.