Hundreds of millions of years ago, dinosaurs were in existence on this planet. It is believed they roamed the earth, ate plants, hunted for food, anatomically had their gender changed out of the blue and loved singing and dancing to showtunes.
Well, that might not be the most accurate description of these creatures. But it is certainly fun to imagine what dancing dinosaur jazz hands look like.
There is no imagining these possibilities at Ray of Light Theatre’s newest production of the 90 minute musical “Triassiq Parq” which opens Friday, May 30th at San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre. The show, with book and lyrics written by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo, was quite the hit at the 2010 New York City Fringe Festival. The show also fits neatly into Ray of Light’s mission of doing musicals with new twists, as well as bold rock musicals. According to director Alex Kirschner, there are various styles of music in the show, certainly not limited to power ballads. Rock, huge duets and even rap music makes their appearance in the show.
“We take all kinds of different musical genres in order to give the audience a varied experience,” said Kirschner. “It really helps us to tell a story when we move from group ballad into a rap. It just takes us into different worlds, which is really an exciting thing.”
The show is a sharp parody based on the Steven Spielberg film and Michael Crichton novel “Jurassic Park,” which followed the story of a billionaire who teamed with a group of scientists to create a theme park focused dinosaur.
In “Triassiq Parq,” a collection of female dinosaurs decides to create their own society, complete with religion and societal beliefs accepted by all. But when one of the ladies grows a penis, causing another dinosaur to bolt outside the electric walls in a frenzy, all tyrannosaurus hell breaks loose.
And, the dinosaurs sing a bunch of showtunes.
The fun begins and ends with Kirschner, who loved the play upon its first reading. But there was one major concern about the production he voiced to artistic director Jason Hoover.
“I immediately sent him a text and asked him, ‘Are you sure you think I’m funny enough?’” said Kirschner. “It is pretty freaking hilarious.
“We are looking through the lens of a dinosaur, but giving the dinosaur very human characteristics. They struggle with faith, love and identity, and there is a level of incongruity that lends itself to be comedic.”
Even though hilarity is at the forefront of the show, there is a bigger question at hand – If a community is a heterogeneous collection of people with many different traits, what is the responsibility of our roles as citizens?
“The show really explores the strengths and ideas of community,” said Kirschner. “More than just that, what does it mean to be part of a community? What does it mean to be ostracized, not from you only, but from others you live with?
“Human beings accept very different flavors of humanity, whether that is being gay, straight or transgendered. The play is about the idea of embracing differences, differences that make us a symbiotic whole as a community.”
The exploration of community is something Kirschner took hold of in the show and turned it into a total theatre experience. In the “Jurassic Park” film, the amusement park functioned as one large ride, and unfortunately, the ride got way too close to the park patrons. It is a concept that is in the front seat for Kirschner’s direction.
“We are really focusing a lot on the idea of community, and we put the audience right in the show,” said Kirschner. “There is on stage seating, and the actors are going in and out through the house. This is not normal from Ray of Light shows.
“We are really making the theme being a part of the community. Audiences will experience that, much like you would an amusement park ride.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Ray of Light Theatre presents “Triassiq Parq”
Written by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo
Directed by Alex Kirschner
May 30th – June 28th
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
The Eureka Theatre
215 Jackson Street (at Battery)
San Francisco, CA
Tickets range from $25 – $36
For tickets, visit Ray of Light’s official website.