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Francis Howell High School Return to the Forbidden Planet

By • Feb 21st, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Missouri

How are Shakespeare, spaceships, and monsters related? In Return to the Forbidden Planet, performed by the Francis Howell Limelight Theatre, these seemingly random elements are brought together in an entertaining jukebox musical.

The show, written by Bob Carlton, is based on the unlikely pairing of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the science fiction film Forbidden Planet. The musical’s characters resemble those of The Tempest, but are altered to blend into the galactic world of Forbidden Planet. The musical begins with a meteor shower that sends the ship of Captain Tempest to the planet, D’lllyria. Here, Doctor Prospero and his lovely daughter, Miranda, are introduced. Throughout the story, there are many complications regarding who Miranda should love, as well as the twisted past of Dr. Prospero and his wife, Gloria. With numerous modern songs worked into the script, the story unfolds into a captivating piece.

This musical could not have been understood easily without the great characterization that the cast applied. Throughout the performance, Captain Tempest played by Nic Branson, and Ariel played by Aurielle Macchi, remained in character and were a joy to watch. Another strong performance was the Navigational Officer, played by Katie Angeli, who’s punctual tone remained consistent and clear. Miranda, played by the beautiful Ashley Unland, also brought life to her character with her sweet tone and daintiness. Laughs filled the auditorium when the solo male in the chorus, Danny Junkel, danced his way on stage. His enthusiasm was refreshing. Overall, the cast was effective in portraying their characters and provided the audience with insight into Carlton’s original intentions for the show.

In addition to the effective cast, the Limelight Theater exceeded expectations in its technical elements. Onstage projection screens gave the audience better understanding of events occurring with video and images. Sound effects such as explosions and crashes also added to the audience’s experience. The light, sound, and special effect crews executed everything smoothly and efficiently. The live band was a nice addition that was consistent throughout the performance.

Although the cast performed well and the technical aspects were superior, there were minor flaws that distracted from the enjoyable show. Occasionally lines could not be clearly heard causing the plot to become foggy. Enthusiastic dancing was also lacking, except for the last song, “Monster Mash,” in which the cast came to life. Also, the characters were often hidden behind podiums in the spaceship and because of this, were slightly disconnected from the audience and even other characters on stage. This minor wrinkle, although distracting, did not affect the great quality of Francis Howell’s performance.

The fantasy combination of Shakespeare and science fiction provided a fun departure from routine life. Kudos to the cast and crew of Return to the Forbidden Planet for producing an enjoyable evening of quality entertainment.

by Allie Sanderson of Holt High School

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