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The Central Kentucky Theatre is presenting its latest production at the Opera House and it could not be a more entertaining selection, especially to people of my generation.
A “B-grade” movie called “Forbidden Planet” was originally made around 1956.
You ever wonder where the term “B-grade” came from?
Well, in the old days, if there was a double feature playing, the best film would get top billing at the theater’s marquee and the cheaper-made film would be at the bottom. That’s where the term “B-grade,” or “bottom” of the marquee, came from.
Now, what would you get if you took “Star Wars,” Shakespeare, and every hit song from the 50s and 60s, including artists such as The Beach Boys, James Brown. Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, and shook it all up in one big bag?
I’ll tell you what you get.
You’d have “Return to The Forbidden Planet,” a comedy, based on the original movie, and is anything but a B-grade production when our local Youth Actors give their rendition of this 23-year-old award-winning Broadway play.
Here’s the summary.
In the distant future, a mad scientist, Doctor Prospero, worked late in his laboratory, aided only by his wife, Gloria, as he developed the elusive formula with which he would change the world. The apparently faithful Gloria, however, duped him and sent him off into hyperspace in an old rocket.
Unknown to Gloria, her infant daughter, Miranda, slumbered peacefully in the craft and was catapulted off to distant galaxies in her father’s company.
Fifteen years later, a routine survey flight under the command of the chisel-jawed Captain Tempest leaves earth’s orbit with a new science officer aboard - a hard and bitter woman. As a shower of meteorites hits the ship, the science officer flees, and the craft is pulled inexorably towards the planet D’Illyria - the “Forbidden Planet.” The adventure begins...
Jan Fattizzi is directing this production, while her husband, Scott, is working his usual magic on the set, lights and sound. Scott said this is the most demanding play that he has ever had to put together in regards to the stage. When you see it, you will know why.
I got to talk with some of the youthful players in this production while watching a practice session.
Callie Mills is a 14-year-old home-schooled sophomore from Washington County, playing Doctor Prospero’s beautiful teenage daughter, Miranda, in “Forbidden Planet.” It’s one of the main characters. Callie says she really enjoys singing and that performing in theater is so much fun that it doesn’t seem like work. She’s been with this troop of actors for about two years.
Her favorite part was playing “Belle” in “Beauty and the Beast.” Callie plans to eventually attend U of K and maybe major in science, and possibly journalism. Right now, she enjoys theater mostly because of all the friends she’s made. Callie says it’s like having a “second family.”
Then you have Gaubrie Humphress, who is a four-year veteran of the local theater group. Gaubrie is another home-schooled young lady and is currently in the eighth grade. She comes from Marion County.
Her favorite role to date has been Millie in the play “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but she considers her role as the science officer in “Forbidden Plant” to be her biggest. You’ll easily be able to pick out Gaubrie as the petite young lady with the big, beautiful voice when you see the play.
Next is Wesley Campbell, who is in his sixth year with Central Kentucky Youth Actors. Wesley told me that even after all these years, he has not tired out from countless plays he’s been a part of.
He always seems to end up in comic roles, and does a wonderful job on them, though in truth he’s more interested in doing parts that are serious. His role in this play is as Dr. Prospero, which mixes comedy with heartbreaking sadness at the end of the play.
Wesley’s a junior at WCHS, and looks forward to graduating and maybe going on to the University of Louisville from there.
He’s exploring the possibility of majoring in some area of the medical field. I asked him why, and he said he wanted to do something that was meaningful with his life. He couldn’t think of anything more meaningful than medicine, where everything you do is geared to helping people.
Finally, we come to WCHS freshman Jordan Barlow. Jordan is another long-term Central Kentucky Youth actor with some three years under his belt. He’s very serious about theater, and hopes to one day make a living at it.
Well, his family is exploring the option of sending him to the Youth Performing Arts School at Louisville’s DuPont Manual High School after finishing his freshman year at WCHS. DuPont is a magnet school for the arts.
Theater is not work to Jordan, no matter how many hours a week he puts into it, and he averages at least 12. That’s an amazing amount of time for a high school student when you think about it.
Jordan’s favorite roles are the comedic ones because you “have more options” with what you can do with it. All I know is Jordan has consistently turned in solid performances in all the roles that he has been given.
You know what, Jordan?
I think one day you will get your dream.