|« Review: Jeff Garlin @ Steppenwolf||Free Movie Tuesdays at the 360 »|
Review Mon Jul 18 2011
Friday night I was introduced to something that I can't believe I never knew about before: Alien Queen. When I got the press release, I was intrigued. I love Queen like almost nobody else does: I have a Facebook profile picture of me genuflecting at the feet of the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreaux, my secret personal anthem is "Don't Stop Me Now" and I've performed "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions" at live band karaoke, to rave reviews. I enjoy the Alien films as much as the next person (at least the first two in the series, before the franchise started heading into Alien vs. Mothra territory), but I wasn't sure how these two seemingly disparate things would fare mashed together in a midnight show.
As it turns out, they go together hilariously well. Over the course of an hour or so, the first two films in the Alien series are condensed, parodied onstage by an energetic cast starring Ryan Lanning as Ripley, and accompanied by a bonafide four-piece rock band that keeps the show moving forward. The Queen catalog comes into play at key moments: when the baby alien (represented by a sock puppet) springs from the stomach of Kane, it begins singing "Mama, just killed a man..." from "Bohemian Rhapsody"; when the cast of the first film fights the Alien, it's set to the song "Keep Yourself Alive"; and when Ripley goes into hypersleep at the end of the first film, it's to the strains of "All Dead All Dead/Nevermore."
After a musical interstitial, the cast picks up the story with Aliens, the second film in the series. Ripley's hair is shorter, but otherwise her costume is the same. "What happened to my hair, where am I?" she asks. "In the next film," comes the answer. The stage interpretation of the second film is even more flamboyant than the first, featuring several average sized aliens and one enormous, queen alien, who makes her entrance on the balcony. Surrounded by Metro security detail, she makes her way down to the first floor, where Ripley delivers the line: "Get away from her, you bitch!" to raucous applause. The final scene has Ripley singing the final strains of "Bohemian Rhapsody" with the lines "nothing really matters..." with a rapt audience singing along in unison. With that, the entire cast gets onstage and sings the incongruous "Fat Bottomed Girls," with the audience singing right along with them.
The cultish audience enthusiasm put me in the mind of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Lanning's portrayal of Ripley had just a hint of Kevin McDonald of the Canadian comedy troupe "Kids in the Hall." This was billed as Alien Queen's final performance, but I really hope it's not, it's just like me to discover something like this right at the end of its run. Alien Queen is produced by The Scooty & Jojo Show, and whatever they have up their sleeve next, I want in.