Carlsbad’s New Village Arts Theatre launches its 15th season with the likable mishmash that is Return to the Forbidden Planet. British playwright Bob Carlton’s jukebox musical mixes the iconic sci-fi flick “Forbidden Planet” with Shakespeare (not just “The Tempest,” upon which in part that 1956 movie was based, but others of The Bard’s works as well.) Then – who knows why? – it tosses into the goulash hit pop songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s.
It’s all rather ridiculous and over-ambitious. But NVA’s production is distinguished by a deft and fun-loving cast. Manny Fernandes basks in the Dr. Prospero mad scientist part, Keavne L’Marr Coleman nails the role of the roller-skating droid Ariel, and among the singing actors soloing, Marlene Montes soars highest. If you banish the classic film from your mind and brush up on your Shakespeare a little, you’ll enjoy this excessive but genial extraterrestrial trip.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat