“The Twilight Zone” Meets The Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre- Result: Sterling Serling

mokeyzoneRod Serling may be turning over in his grave. Hopefully it’s with gales of laughter as The Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre has taken two of  his most famous episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and turned them upside down. “To Serve Man” and “Nightmare At 20.000 Feet” are still effective in re-runs on SyFy marathons but, despite a few chuckles at William Shatner’s acting chops, they don’t evoke the guffaws that these two slightly altered episodes do. Then add a silly visit with the “Superfriends” that appears to be an excuse for quick costume changes, and you’ve got a short but sweet evening of wall to wall laughs.

An offshoot of St. Louis Shakespeare, The Magic Smoking Monkey has been bringing us these quick re-tells of things like “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars” and other classics for some time. Now that they’ve tackled Rod Serling, it opens up a whole library of classics to bring their fresh perspectives. Can you imagine what the little devil fortune telling machine might say in William Shatner’s other classic “Twilight Zone?” How about their take on the scary talking doll that swore to kill Telly Savalas? There’s a treasure trove out there.

Suki Peters, aka Wonder Woman, prepares to look the part as the mighty hordes mass behind her. BTW- nothing to do with the Superfriends segment- except for Suki, of course.

Suki Peters, aka Wonder Woman, prepares to look the part as the mighty hordes mass behind her. BTW- nothing to do with the Superfriends segment- except for Suki, of course.

In “To Serve Man,” the tall alien that speaks without moving his lips (it’s all telepathic, you know) is played in elevator shoes and a large rubber extended brain topper by Ian Hardin. The voice of Maxwell Knocke is heard from behind the stage left curtain as Kanamit speaks from center stage (remember, without moving his lips). The book he holds in this rendition is called “Otay Ervesay Anmay”- or the pig Latin equivalent of the more familiar tome that turns out to be a Betty Crocker knock-off. James Enstall gets it all started by introducing the story in his best Rod Serling.

Other characters in this grizzly tale include Suki Peters as a translator to Alex Ringhausen who plays a series of Ambassadors meeting with the U.N. to figure out if Kanamit is a good guy or bad. He simply does a quick change of hats and horrible accents depending on what country he is representing. Scott Myers is the Secretary General of the U.N. and Betsy Bowman, Jaysen Cryer, Jaiymz Hawkins and Michael Pierce round out the acting corps. Fleshing out the original Rod Serling script, MSM takes us into another dimension as we cross over into “The Monkey Zone.”

In our second feature of the evening, Ian Hardin takes on the iconic role of Bob, the recently released inmate of a mental institution who happens to notice, at 20,000 feet, that there is a gremlin on the wing of the airplane he and his wife are in as they’re flying back home. That rather oddly dressed gremlin is played by Jaiymz Hawkins and the rather overzealous, yet narcoleptic wife of Bob is played by Suki Peters. Betsy Bowman gets to ham it up as the oversexed stewardess while James Enstall once again plays the dapper Rod Serling. Filled with puns and sight gags and even an unexpected side-splitter from “Airplane,” this one really takes the audience for a ride.

monkeylogoThe talented cast then fills out the “One Hour Twilight Zone” with an episode of their Superfriends characters including Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Lex Luthor, Aquaman and even Julius Caesar, among others. Racing around through time tunnels and making numerous costume changes with sometimes disastrous results, this wasn’t quite as successful as the Twilight Zone episodes. In fact, a third episode might have been more effective. The actors had a great time but this one only brought a few laughs but more confusion than farce.

With direction by Laura Enstall, costumes by Katie Donovan, sound by Josh Cook, sets by Linda Lawson-Mixon, lighting by Jaime Zayas and some nice graphics by Bob Singleton, “The One Hour Twilight Zone: Live!” is a great way to spend an hour and get some laughs and memories of one of the best anthology series’ ever created for television. For sketch comedy at its best, visit the Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre at the Regional Arts Commission through May 17th. Give them a call at 314-361-5664 for tickets or more information.

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