JEDI! A Musical Tour de Force, Argos Agency, at ImprovOlympic. The night I caught this musical version of the Star Wars trilogy I overheard several people in the audience anxiously discussing whether George Lucas would “shut them down.” They were hoping he’d try, because it would be great publicity. (As if this uneven, hastily thrown together show hasn’t ridden far enough already on his coattails.) I too hope he tries, because it would be great if someone made clear the difference between satire and mere appropriation. Most of the dialogue in this two-hour musical is lifted directly from the movies, a fact the producers tacitly acknowledge by crediting no writer in the program.
There’s some charm in seeing local actors playing the mythic heros–Eric Spitznagel makes a great Chewbacca, and Stuart Ranson is simply scrumptious as Princess Leia–and the college-revue-style songs in the show are sweet and silly, sometimes even hilarious. But it’s hard not to get impatient given that the production team clearly spent lots of time coming up with clever ways to lampoon the look of the film–some of the biggest laughs come from cheap re-creations of expensive special effects–but never bothered to turn their satiric gaze on the films’ melodramatic plot and flat, perfunctory dialogue. Even a shallow Mad magazine-style send-up would have been more interesting. — Jack Helbig