Youthful exuberance predominates onstage at the new "Solo Must Die: A Musical Parody."
Unfortunately, the mood is not infectious.
This undeniably ambitious premiere at the Hudson Backstage Theatre opened on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you), in advance of the Memorial Day weekend launch of "Solo: A Star Wars Story." The stage spoof features a book by Jordan and Ari Stidham and music and lyrics by Hughie Stone Fish and Ari Stidham, the latter best known for his role as Sylvester Dodd on the TV series "Scorpion." (He also directs.)
Intended as a comical romp, "Solo" is a series of unrelated musical numbers constructed around a scenario so arbitrary it defies description.
The play opens as Han Solo (Jordan Stidham) crash-lands the Millennium Falcon on Cloud City. Extracted from the wreckage are the following story points: Solo's buddy Lando Calrissian (Keenan Montgomery) is hopelessly in love with Annie (Kaitlyn Tanimoto), daughter of archvillain Grand Moff Levine (Ari Stidham). Grand Moff wants Solo dead and plots to kill him by donning a disguise and hiring Solo to have sex with his wife, Galaxia (Selorm Kploanyi), Solo's old flame, whose torch for Solo still burns bright. Grand Moff intends to burst onto the scene and murder Solo — for reasons that remain, at best, unclear. All this is to occur just days before Annie is due to marry a droid (Fish), a union that Lando expects Solo to help him prevent.
If you understood that, you're way ahead of the audience.
The star-flung plot is contained within the framework of an inept fan-fiction piece narrated by its writer (John Ryan) to his hapless pal (Jordan R. Coleman) — a device that supposedly excuses the play's general randomness.
Whether stylistically intentional or not, a scattershot quality extends to all levels of the production, from choreography to lighting to costumes — a combination of the purposely cheesy and the merely makeshift.
Some good performers are in the mix. Michelle Wicklas is a winning Leia, Montgomery makes for a serviceable Lando, and Ari Stidham has a pleasant singing voice — if only he'd stop pandering for applause every time he comes onstage.
The main problem is that "Solo" meanders from gag to gag and situation to situation without ever getting to light speed. The architects of this production should be advised that sheer outlandishness, unmoored by sense or structure, strands the audience in the wormhole of failed intentions.
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‘Solo Must Die: A Musical Parody’
Where: Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; ends May 27
Information: (323) 960-7788, www.plays411.com/hansolo
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
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