Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Intergalactic Nemesis’ is far-out fun

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Intergalactic Nemesis’ is far-out fun

The show at the Weidner Center combines a multitude of experiences.

PHOTO: Three actors enact a bunch of characters in “The Intergalactic Nemesis.” Production photo

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – “The Intergalactic Nemesis” is a kind of rocket science. It combines:

- Science fiction. That’s the stuff of the mind that is almost real (some day really real to sci-fi nuts).

- Comic book art. Approximately 1,250 images are projected on a screen. Vivid colors. Swooshing action scenes. Earnest characters. Alien creatures with abundant “extra” eyes, teeth and limbs. No balloons for spoken words.

- A graphic novel/comic book story. Impossible situations tumble into sure-death cliff-hanger moments like clockwork. Plot twists are dandy as a woman journalist and her aw-shucks male assistant fall in with a time traveler and venture all over creation in pursuit of a vital goal.

- Radio theater of the 1930s. People talk in the style of the time, Kiddo.

- Live theater. Adventures in time and space are played out by five people, three of whom portray all of a myriad of characters – often switching character voices in a split second. In radio theater, actors often held scripts. In “The Intergalactic Nemesis,” the actors did all through memory in a two-hour show.

- Live sound effects. All the woo-wee sci-fi sounds, the shuffle of shoes, the rustle of candy wrappers, the opening of cement-block doors, the roar of space-ship engines, the EXPLOSIONS, the thunderclaps, the pouring of liquid into a glass, the cry of a wolf – all is done by one Foley artist (sound effects person) at stage front in time with what is happening in the story.

- Live music. A pianist/organist plays along with the story, setting aural backdrops from high excitement to gushy romance. The performance is improvised.

- Audience interaction. Heroes are cheered, villains booed as folks in the seats get wrapped into the experience.

- Time and space travel (1). The story dials into the recesses of the mind as it brings a person from the future back to save Earth from an evil universal force that does destruct Earth. (Got that?)

- Time and space travel (2). This was a personal experience, though perhaps enjoyed by others. Along the way, I flipped back to my comic-book-reading days and the oh-gosh! excitement of sci-fi possibilities/“realities.” It was a comforting place. Refreshing now.

- Other cosmic stuff too deep to delve into.

All this played out Thursday night at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in front of an all-ages audience. The full title of the piece is “The Intergalactic Nemesis: Live-Action Graphic Novel: Book One: Target Earth.” The show was fun (4 stars out of 5). It took a lot to pull off what a few clever folks dreamed up in their overactive sci-fi imaginings.

“The Intergalactic Nemesis” is the kind of far-out, fringe show that attracted people to the Weidner Center for the first time. It took 21 years.

***

Creative: Written and directed by Jason Neulander. Adapted from a stage play, adapted from a radio drama. Comic-book artwork by Tim Doyle.

Cast: Actors – Danu Uribe, Brock England, Christopher Lee Gibson. Foley sound effects – Cami Alys. Piano and organ – Kenneth Redding Jr.

***

The cast that appeared at the Weidner Center was quite nimble. Kudos to Christopher Lee Gibson, who was forever in character in colorful ways in all his juicy roles that included a rogues gallery of Forces of Evil, all of whom want to control YOU and do vile things as control freaks. Kudos, too, to Foley artist Cami Alys, who seemed to live and breathe the story like she was hearing it for the first time – totally into everything as if what was happening was spontaneous.

THE VENUE: Cofrin Family Hall is one of three performance spaces within the Edward W. Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. At its maximum capacity setup, the hall seats 2,021 over its three levels of maple-and-burgundy seats. Opened Jan. 15, 1993, the hall was built to adapt to the needs of orchestra concerts, operas, musicals, plays and organ, band and choral concerts – and for the first time, an intergalactic adventure. For acoustical properties, wood is emphasized on the seats, mezzanine and balcony surfaces and walls near the stage. Many surfaces are curved to help shape the sound. Wood is featured for an aesthetic reason, too – a “from here” aura of woodsy Northeastern Wisconsin.

THE PEOPLE: The name Cofrin relates in great degree to A.E. Cofrin, founder of Fort Howard Paper Co., and his son, Dr. David A. Cofrin, who was instrumental in building the Weidner Center through multi-million-dollar donations. A friendship developed between David A. Cofrin (1921-2009) and Edward W. Weidner (1921-2007), the beloved founding chancellor of UWGB. Weidner arrived when there were no buildings on the present-day campus on rolling hills near the shore of Green Bay. His interests ranged from academia to birding to sports. He loved building projects. It was in his blood. He guided the building of the Weidner Center, so named from early on in construction. Weidner admitted his eyes welled once when driving to a performance and seeing a green sign along the highway: WEIDNER CENTER.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays.

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