Having missed a few years since going to the last Maverick Theater production, I felt almost guilty walking in. Every show I have ever gone to at the Maverick, shows like ‘Rocky Horror Show’, ‘Reefer Madness’, or ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ left me out of breath from all the laughing. And that is meant in the best way possible. Laughter makes everyone feel good, and that’s what ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ delivered again for me. It was a fun evening where I laughed so much it was hard to take a photo (but I managed to get a few) and walked out feeling great. The Maverick Theater advertises ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’: “The worst movie of all time – now the worst play of all time”. I disagree. It’s a hilarious tribute to the infamous film of the same name made by Ed Wood in 1959. The low budget movie was rediscovered by late night TV horror fans and has since become a sci-fi cult classic. The history of the movie, told in the Tim Burton movie ‘Ed Wood’, features the story of a man with a passion for film making without the talent or money needed to do it right. The awful low-budget special effects and stilted confusing acting made it terrible and wonderfully campy at the same time. The short silent clip of Bela Lugosi, who Ed Wood befriended before he died, is touching even if it makes no sense in the movie.
Walking into the Maverick Theater is like walking back in time. The Art Deco design, by historic theater designer Joseph Musil is fabulous to look at. Going to a show at a theater the size of the Maverick is wonderful, because no matter where you sit you usually get to be a part of the show, (there is very often something or someone in the audience with you!) The Maverick is a storefront theater in Fullerton across from the train station and was originally founded in 2002 by Artistic Director Brian Newell. Starting out at the Block of Orange to run his show ‘The King’, an Elvis Presley musical, Newell rented a space formerly occupied by Mars Music. Finding a large “M” cemented into the floor, Newell decided on the name Maverick for the theater. Moving to Fullerton in 2005 they have become known for their adaptations of popular and lesser-known films including ‘Plan 9’, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ for Halloween and ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians’ for Christmas.
Its hard to say what I liked best about ‘Plan 9’. I loved the campy intentional overacting. I loved that it had aliens, vampires, and zombies. I loved the Maverick Light and Magic team (Kyle Hawkins and Lauren Shoemaker) who ran all the little miniature sets (designed by writer, producer, director Brian Newell) that were projected behind the actors and looked just as bad as in the Ed Wood movie. It really made the whole play work and being able to see the miniature sets moved around as the play went on was really interesting. Its always great to observe the backstage magic. I have to say though my favorite was the original Ed Wood clip of Bela Legosi played at the beginning. I was pleased to see that they were able to use it. Having read that the show was first envisioned by Brian Newell to be puppets or marionettes, I am glad he went with humans, since the adaptation was almost straight out of the Ed Wood script, real actors made it that much funnier. What also made the play so enjoyable was how much fun the actors seemed to be having. That felt very real. By trying to intentionally make “the worst play of all time” they have managed to make a show that audiences love and come back to see year after year.
“Plan 9 from Outer Space” runs November 6th – 21st 2015 at The Maverick Theater in Fullerton
For more information or tickets go to Mavericktheater.com
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