“This Moon’s Got Its Own Gravitational Pull, Lady”

By Rachele Stoops

Space Princess Wars, Community Players, Thursday July 20, 2023

What do you get when you mash storylines from two wildly popular adventure movies together with forty-one or forty-two (I counted twice and got different numbers each time) extremely talented kids? 

Pretty much the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Playwright Don Zolidis has written a number of irreverent scripts for young adults, and this wasn’t my first experience with his work. The best way to describe his writing style is to imagine a play that you almost believe the actors are making up as they go along, except that every so often there’s a hilarious line that had to have been written by a slightly eccentric adult. That’s every Don Zolidis show,

Space Princess Wars, directed by Katie Umland, is this summer’s Stars of Summer performance by Beatrice’s Community Players, and it’s a hoot. 

The story is a mostly gender bent mashup of at least one Star Wars movie (sorry, I haven’t seen all of them) and the 1987 Rob Reiner movie Princess Bride (this one I know by heart). 

The set has a space theme, with a galaxy painted backdrop and an outer space bedspread in the bedroom belonging to the ‘sick’ little girl (Skyler Kuhlman) who manages to avoid that day’s math test at school, only to be trapped into a reading of her father’s (Carter Craven) screenplay. 

I enjoyed the Easter eggs in the bedroom; a poster featuring The Music Man (which I reviewed for CP earlier this summer) and the Baby Yoda sleep mask on Kuhlman’s head, among others. 

The wise-beyond-her-years child recognizes that her father has plagiarized pieces of “better movies”, but finds herself drawn into the story, just as the sick boy, played by a young Fred Savage, is reluctantly interested in the story in Princess Bride.

Somewhat recognizable characters from both Star Wars and Princess Bride appear in both hero and villain roles, and eventually band together to battle the evil Empress (Mary Ellen Zapata) and the “misunderstood” cyborg queen (Avery Busboom). 

There are many randomly funny scenes, including emotionally attached changas, an abundance of blonde mullets, and a band of adorable rapping cats. 

If that isn’t enough, the awe-inspiring sound and special effects are accomplished by two pint-sized techies (Marie Erikson and Sophia Tunink), complete with headsets and backstage black outfits. These two wind their way through the show with a variety of props (Erikson keeps several in a tool belt) and live music and sound. Not only were the effects spectacular, but the concentration and dedication necessary to hit all those marks would be impressive even in taller technicians. 

I would love to write more about the individual performances and fun tangents this show includes, but part of the fun of watching shows like this is the unexpectedness, so I’m not going to spoil it! (I can be bribed.)

The only thing I wished while watching this show was to be able to hear all of it. While most of the actors were able to project into the audience (special shout outs to Uriah Henning, who played Moon, and Busboom as Mordra the cyborg queen), there were a few lines I missed (obligatory personal hearing loss qualifier; your mileage may vary). 

It’s easy to write about a cute show put on by adorable kids, and of course, any time a group of FORTY-ONE (FORTY-TWO?) young people collaborate to create something fantastic, it’s delightful.. But this is a show you should see even if your children or grandchildren or neighbors’ children aren’t in it. Space Princess at Community Players is a really great, funny show. Do yourself a favor and go laugh for an evening. And then go home and rewatch Princess Bride

If you go: Space Princess Wars is playing at Beatrice’s Community Players July 21 & 22 at 7:30pm, and July 23 at 2:00pm. 

For tickets, go to https://www.beatricecommunityplayers.com/tickets

Rachele Stoops is an English teacher and director of theatre for Standing Bear High School in Lincoln. She recently performed in Angels’ Theatre Company’s First Flight Festival, and is currently going for the world record of Most Hobbies & Side Hustles in her weight bracket. Rachele lives in Lincoln with her ever-patient husband and their overindulged chihuahua, and hopes to someday close all her browser tabs.

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