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Triassic Parq The Musical

This spoof of Jurassic Park is fitfully amusing.

Wade McCollum (center) and company
in Triassic Parq The Musical
(© Carol Rosegg)
Musicals don't get much goofier than Triassic Parq The Musical, now playing at SoHo Playhouse, the fitfully amusing show about what might prompt genetically engineered dinosaurs (which are part of an island similar to the one in Jurassic Park) to run amok on a carnage-filled spree.

To answer their query (and the 'q' in "Parq" stands for question), the show's creators, Marshall Pailet (who also directs), Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo, imagine a science vs. religion rift that grows among the dinosaurs after their leader, the Velociraptor of Faith (imbued with a zealot's intensity by Wade McCollum), banishes T-Rex 2 (Claire Neumann) from their community because the creature has begun to mutate into a male.

The T-Rex's expulsion causes Velociraptor of Innocence (played with winning naiveté by Alex Wyse) to question the dogma she (the cross-gender casting might be one of the most clever aspects of the production) has been taught, and she travels to ask questions of another exiled beast, Velociraptor of Science, whom Lindsay Nicole Chambers makes a kind of cross between Tina Turner and J-Lo.

T-Rex's gender-changing also spurs both an unlikely romance and awkward lovers' triangle, and it is this -- along with the battle over the dinosaurs' beliefs -- that eventually lead to the mayhem that is at the centerpiece of the show's source material.

In the midst of this high-energy, but unfocused, staging, a few moments do stand out as laugh-out-loud funny. When T-Rex 1 (Shelley Thomas) expounds on "chaos theory," her unexpected demonstration proves hysterical. Similarly, the show's use of puppets (expertly designed by Michael Mulligan) to represent goats that the unseen humans place on platforms and raise into the dinosaurs' habitat are put to ingenious comic use.

However, alongside these gems are hosts of jokes that prove to be clunky gimmicks. This is particularly true of the running gag about the show's narrator "Morgan Freeman" (imbued with appropriate deadpan dryness by the Caucasian actor Lee Seymour), whom the characters keep referring to as Samuel L. Jackson. And while the jokes about T-Rex 2's over-estimation of her phallus incite initial giggles, they eventually become strained, as does Pailet's uneven rock-pastiche music.

Fortunately, along with the company's fine performances, Kyle Mullins' cracking choreography, Caite Hevner's exceptional environmental scenic design, Dina Perez's consistently witty costumes, and Jen Schriever's eye-popping lighting design come together to often turn Triassic Parq into a guilty summertime pleasure.