A joyous, sexy, gender-bending and queer romp is alive and well in the dinosaur community onstage in Circle Theatre’s remount of Triassic Parq at Heartland Studio. Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo have penned a genius mash-up of faith, science, love and sex and set it to a lyrical score without a false note.
Big Production in a Micro Space
The miracle of this 90-minute production is that it is BIG with songs that encompass a cast of eight actors, rapturous solos that envelop the audience, dance that commands the sweep of the entire space and larger than life costuming by Kat Sass. Imagine three Velociraptors and an inseparable pair of T-Rexes each with a colorful big haired look.
The Mime-a-saurus, played by Patrick Stengle fills the theater with his silent body language every bit as expressive as song. Stengle’s performance is a virtuoso of the art of mime.
The Velociraptor of Innocence, played by lithe and winsome Parker Guidry carries the storyline with a charming naiveté that belies loss of her innocence from the get go. He — the pronoun for the actor, not the character — moves from engaging song to dance in a fetching search for her exiled identity. Guidry’s range is impressive — engaging rap with as much ease as a torch song.
A Musical Melange
The Velociraptor of Faith, affectionately known as Pastor, played by Jacob Richard Axelson has an exceptionally rich voice that carries some of the turning point songs as she watches the dinosaur community stray from its theme park habitat to learn the secrets of life.
T-Rex 2, played by Veronica Garza has a heart-wrenching number evoking the ennui of a female dinosaur who has spontaneously sprouted a penis and must now deal with the loss of her old identity. Garza has some of the best humor as she begins to recognize her “dude stick” has a mind of its own, at once providing delight and the next moment trouble.
Marissa Druzbanski plays the Velociraptor of Science and deftly handles a range of song. She serves double duty as the Dance Captain. The choreography is tight and precise — a challenge in the Heartland’s small space.
A three-piece band with piano, percussion and guitar easily fill out the sound to accompany the actor’s voices. The piano man, or Pianosaurus, played by Justin Harner makes a humorous cameo dressed in pajama pants, a dinosaur t-shirt and dinosaur hat attempting an ill-fated acceptance into the dinosaur gang onstage. No go.
Circle Theatre’s Triassic Parq is a precious metaphor for the cultural shifts in gender identity and acceptance of queer identities we have seen over the course of the last decades. Presented by dinosaurs with humor, joy, baudiness and spectacular music, Triassic Parq makes shape-shifting an adventure. It is a perfect feel-good experience for musical theater lovers and feels destined to become a classic.
July 19-August 13
Thursday-Saturday @ 8PM
Saturday, Sunday matinees @ 2:30PM
Industry performances Monday @ 8PM
Heartland Studio (Rogers Park)
7016 N. Glenwood Ave.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
About the Author:
Stephen B. Starr is Principal of Stephen B. Starr Design, Inc., a design and communication consultancy in Evanston, IL. Stephen is a former president of the Chicago Creative Coalition, organizer for the Chicago Weekly Sitting Meditation Group and founder and organizer of the Chicago Web Professionals. Stephen is nurtured creatively by the fine art of story-telling — especially in the theater. As a college journalism major, he has since followed the siren’s call of poetry and short story writing in his free time. He is interested in the wisdom of indigenous spiritual traditions and seeks inspiration in natural settings by gardening, camping, hiking and biking.