Return To The 50’s With “Devil Boys From Beyond” At Stray Dog Theatre

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Sarajane Alverson, Stephen Peirick and Michael Juncal during a dramatic moment of “Devil Boys From Beyond” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

There are many things to like about the 1950’s and I lived through it all. But one of the best things are the science fiction movies about traveling to other planets or, more likely, creatures from other planets visiting us. Stray Dog Theatre returns us to those thrilling days of yesteryear with their holiday show, “Devil Boys From Beyond.”

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Stephen Peirick is torn between Sarajane Alverson and Michael Baird during their love triangle in Lizard Lick, Florida in Stray Dog’s “Devil Boys From Beyond.” Photo: John Lamb

It’s actually kind of a mix of themes from that era and features hunky young aliens that look a lot more human than most I remember from that decade. Tough newspaper editor, Gilbert Wiatt hears about some possible alien presence in the small town of Lizard Lick, Florida. He sends his ace reporter, Matilda Van Buren and her ex, photographer Gregory Graham to the scene but tagging along after overhearing the story is Matty’s rival, Lucinda Marsh, who also has her sights on Greg. And so the plot thickens- but don’t worry, it gets a lot thicker before the night is over.

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Sarajane Alverson, Jonathan Hey, Michael Juncal and Teryl Thurman in a scene from “Devil Boys From Beyond” at Stray Dog. Photo: John Lamb

Jonathan Hey is marvelous as the gritty editor while Sarajane Alverson really gets into the mood of the era as Matty and Stephen Peirick plays a marvelous drunk as the easily swayed photographer. These three capture the essence of overreacting as we remember so fondly from old “Superman” television episodes as George Reeves and Phyllis Coates used to do double-takes and pose dramatically at every plot turn. But in this case, overreacting is good acting because they play to that genre.

Michael Baird is one of two males who take on female characters in the play. He is the snippy Lucinda who wants her story and wants her man. She stops at nothing to get both. It’s a wonderful performance that includes a not-so-dramatic near death scene near the finale that inadvertently keeps the audience in stitches. Also donning a dress is Michael Juncal as one of the locals, Florence, who has encountered the aliens. With his bulk and obvious manly appearance, it just makes it spectacular in its absurdity.

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Sarajane Alverson and Stephen Peirick relax on a plane while Michael Baird plots her next move in “Devil Boys From Beyond” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Teryl Thurman is delightful as another local who tries to latch onto anything wearing pants. She and Florence are recipients of the alien duo who set their middle-aged hearts (and other parts) atingle as they take over the heart and soul of their husbands. These are the hunky guys I referred to earlier in the form of Ryan Wiechmann and Brandon Brendel.

All of this lunacy is directed by Stray Dog Artistic Director, Gary F. Bell. His high-handed camp is just right for the show, written by Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliott. With a pre-recorded score and sound design by Drew Fornarola, it provides just the right touch with familiar alien sounds including space ships and the “woo-woo” sounds from every alien movie from the 50’s. “Devil Boys From Beyond” does bring the simple message from that decade when most futures were hopeful ones.

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Jonathan Hey, Sarajane Alverson and Stephen Peirick plan their strategy to cover the alien story during Stray Dog’s “Devil Boys From Beyond.” Photo: John Lamb

The Eileen Engel costumes are right on the mark for the period including the guys who have chosen to tackle those female roles. Justin Been’s set is sparse but effective, dominated by a huge billboard proclaiming the joys of living in Lizard Lick. It’s all enhanced by Tyler Duenow’s strong lighting design.

Director Gary F. Bell greets the audience as usual and declares to continue doing non-traditional holiday shows. As long as he keeps us in stitches with campy ones like this and actors who can pull it all off, I’m all for it. Join Stray Dog Theatre and these marvelous denizens of both New York and Lizard Lick, Florida through December 19th. Give them a call at 314-865-1995 or visit straydogtheatre.org for tickets or more information.

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