by: Lindsay Welch
Do you wanna be a Starship Ranger? The correct answer is yes, yes you do.
The latest viral hit by Team Starkid , the creative minds behind A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel, is a stunning and hilarious adventure set in space. For those unfamiliar with Team Starkid and their creations allow me to explain. The theatre troupe, who formed at the University of Michigan, created a small production of a musical based on Harry Potter. Surprised by the turnout, they recorded the show and uploaded it online as an afterthought. Before they knew it, it was one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. This is actually their fourth original musical, the other being Me and My Dick, a raunchy college humor musical. Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get back to Starship.
Starring: Julia Albain, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Brant Cox, Denise Donovan, Brian Holden, Nick Lang, Lauren Lopez, Joe Moses, Jim Povolo, Joey Richter, Dylan Saunders, Meredith Stephien, and Joe Walker
Written by: Brian Holden, Matt Lang, Nick Lang, and Joe Walker
Music & Lyrics: Darren Criss
Directed by: Matt Lang
Here’s a brief summary:
All Bug has ever wanted to do with his life is to become a Starship Ranger, but there’s only one problem: Bug is, well…a bug. In Bug’s world this dream seems impossible until he runs into the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen: a human girl. He discovers that she’s a Starship Ranger and lies to her about being a human. After this chance encounter Bug is determined to make his dreams come true any way he can. Along the way he has to fight evil villains and bugs and find out what he was really meant to do and that, of course, is to be a Starship Ranger.
I had the chance to go see the musical a few hours early at a theatre in Los Angeles with Team StarKid members Brian Holden, Nick Lang, Joe Walker, and newcomer Brant Cox. The energy in the theatre was incredible and the audience sang along to two songs from A Very Potter Musical waiting for the event to begin. It was very touching. There was a brief Q & A mostly consisting of silly questions like “Harry Potter vs. Green Lantern?” (They answered Green Lantern in case you were wondering) and requesting voices of some of their other Team StarKid characters. They discussed a little about the writing process which is very collaborative. They divided up scenes amongst themselves and met together when they were done and changed around the scenes to improve them. They wrapped it up pretty quickly and put on the show and boy, was it fantastic.
I admit that I was already an avid fan of Team StarKid before watching this musical but I write this in a non-biased perspective. It is thoroughly heartfelt and funny throughout the entire show. The main character Bug played by Joey Richter was a perfect vision of wide-eyed wonder and innocence as a bug obtaining his dreams. Several other standouts were Lauren Lopez as the Spanglish-speaking soldier Taz, Joe Walker as the kindhearted ex-badass General Up, Brian Holden as Veeto the mosquito brother/the villainous Junior, Nick Lang as several various bugs, and Dylan Saunders as the country bumble Tootsie Noodles (the ridiculous name is explained in the show). A pleasant surprise were the new members to Team StarKid Meredith Stephien, as the robotic Mega-Girl, had a lovely voice, Denise Donovan was amusing with her valley girl accent, and I was most enraptured by Brant Cox who played Bug’s best friend, the lovable Roach. His voice is displayed fully in the song “Beauty” where you can truly marvel at the bug puppets. The dialogue written for the actors was superb and there are far too many quotable lines to walk away with. The music was very inspiring and had the crowd weeping at a few points especially in the opening number “I Wanna Be” where you longed for Bug to achieve his dream and the showstopper “Status Quo”. One of the best songs is definitely the romantic duet “The Way I Do” sung to perfection by Dylan Saunder’s velvet smooth tone. Dylan also showed off his chops in the song, “Kick It Up A Notch” where he croons to Bug’s character as the villain Pincer. I was amazed by his vocal range and cannot wait to see what he does in the future. The props and set were visually stunning and I was constantly blown away by how they managed to portray a spaceship and an alien planet on stage.
The real triumph of Starship was the gorgeous hand puppets the actors used to serve as the bug characters. These puppets were not just tiny, flimsy rag dolls. They were carefully crafted life-sized puppets in bright and vivid colors. At first, it was slightly strange to watch people dressed in black trying to blend into the background controlling the puppets but you easily forget they’re there and they become quite lifelike. In fact, it’s quite clever how they manage to work with them on stage to connect with the audience. The storyline is very simple but solid and is held up by the charm and charisma of the actors.
I do have a few constructive criticisms. I’ve heard from others that the play is too long but I disagree. I think it’s the perfect length at just about three hours. I do however wish there were a few more songs incorporated into the show. It can drag a bit at some parts if you’re not used to sitting still for long periods of time and a few more musical numbers would solve that problem very easily. I also wish a few other players in Team StarKidwould have had larger roles such as Jaime Lyn Beatty who played Neato the Mosquito brother and various other bugs or Joe Moses who was Krayonder in the Starship Ranger crew who still managed to shine in their small roles. Honestly, those are the only weak points in the show. The show is a parody for all things in the sci-fi genre but it doesn’t rely too heavily on references.
The show is available to watch for free on YouTube but if you would rather not deal with watching it in several different parts they have a DVD available for purchase online at www.TeamStarKid.com. Unfortunately, it’s sold out at the moment so any prospective buyers will have to wait to see if more become available. The DVD really is worth buying so you don’t have to deal with YouTube videos loading and the quality of watching it on your own t.v. is much better and clearer. Plus, it comes in two handy little discs with one act on each one. It would have been cool if they had managed to throw on a quick behind the scenes feature but the DVD still is better to own than just watching it on a computer screen. You’re missing out on the whole experience by not having the DVD. You can view the video below and the soundtrack is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Even if musicals aren’t really your thing this show is packed full of big laughs, stand out performances, and sci-fi references galore (Starship Troopers anyone?). You’d be crazy to skip out on this quirky and unique play. It’s the most fun I’ve had watching something in a long time. You can watch the first act right below which has had over 100,000 views in less than the 24 hours it’s been online and download the album on iTunes or Amazon.