Friday, September 14, 2012

Beetle Juice Comes to Luke Air Base

by Pa Rock
Theatre Fan

A couple of years ago I saw a very simple version of The Devil and Daniel Webster put on by an amateur group called "The Luke Experience" at the old base theatre.  It was a simple production undoubtedly limited by scarce funds, but the group did a nice job and seemed to have a lot of fun putting it on.

Then I drifted off to Japan for two years...but now I'm back.

People are constantly moving onto and off of military bases, so I doubt that many of the young people involved in that production are still around - but the organization itself has remained.  Tonight I was back at the Luke Theatre where I enjoyed "The Luke Experience" production of Beetle Juice.

There are challenges to be expected in putting on a play in a building designed to serve as a movie theatre, and Beetle Juice is a technically demanding endeavor, but the small acting and production troupe handled it well.  The set was somewhat sad, and the necessity of turning spotlights on and off for set changes was annoying - but the actors knew their lines and delivered them realistically.  More importantly than that, however, was the fact that they were obviously having fun displaying their talents and putting on the show for friends and families.

The "star" of the evening was the man himself, Betelgeuse, ably played by Cris Ceroni.  The actor channeled Michael Keaton, and indeed often seemed to be playing Keaton playing Betelgeuse.  He was a roguish delight.  The play's director, Lacey Quattlebaum (whom I suspect may have been involved in the first production that I saw at Luke a few years ago) also was on stage as Lydia Deetz, the untalented sculptor who was anxious to become accepted into the arts community.  She was the lead performer when she and her group of socialite friends suddenly found themselves singing and dancing to Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat Song.   That segment was hilarious!

Beetle Juice will have its second and final showing tomorrow night - and would be an enjoyable way to spend Saturday evening if you happen to be at Luke Air Force Base.  (I will be downtown tomorrow night watching Parallel Lives, but that is a completely different blog posting!)

"The Luke Experience" will be performing The Rocky Horror Picture Show on November 10th and 11th.  Dammit, Janet - I really want to see that one!  They also have plans to tackle Oliver Twist after that.  More please!

While Arizona has many, many, many drawbacks - a lack of theatrical venues is not one of them.  I hope that the Luke troupe continues to bring a small measure of culture to this desert wasteland for years to come!

Great work, guys!  Michael Keaton would have loved it!

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