If the 1980s films Flash Gordon and Revenge of the Nerds morphed together to become a musical stage production, it might look something like Eugenius! There’s a comic book space hero, Tough Man (Shaun Dalton), who resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger in style and voice, a nerdy evil space lord, Tough Man’s long lost brother, Hector (Ian Hughes), and a cast of geeks, jocks and cheerleaders who all desire to find their place in the universe and end up clashing in the process.
Walking into the modern designed theatre to take my seat along with a full house of patrons at The Other Palace, a two-page comic book with the title ‘Tough Man’ was handed to me as a band of musicians on keyboard, guitar, bass and drums warmed up. The venue was packed and there was an excited energy in the air. The house lights went down and producer Warwick Davis spoke via recorded message to let us know that Mark Hamill, yes Luke Skywalker, would be the voice of Kevin the Robot. The buzz intensified as the show began.
The opening number was a theme song for space hero, Tough Man. It became clear that Tough Man is tough, fair and has great hair. Despite being attracted to the dynamic Super Hot Lady (Melissa James), he resists her sex appeal since love weakens his power.
Eugenius! Relies on 80s references, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, He-Man and Indiana Jones, and comic book culture – think Batman and Stan Lee – for the geeks, led by aspiring comic book creator, Eugene (Liam Forde), his best friend Feris (Daniel Buckley) and “friend zone” wannabe girlfriend, Janey (Laura Baldwin – possibly the real star of the show) to offer a musical full of humour with powerhouse singing by the energetic cast. “The No Pants Dance”, an innuendo-laden number got this reviewer humming and laughing simultaneously, for instance. Fun escapism at its finest.
The musical reminds us to follow our passions despite what those who might distract us say. The showstopper song of the musical “Don’t Shoot for the Stars, Shoot Higher” is followed up by the line “be the hero you were meant to be”. Eugenius! deserves to be experienced for its fun and to inspire us to be our true selves. Flash Gordon would get behind that.
Produced by Kevin & George Wood and Warwick Davis
Created by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins
Directed by Ian Talbot
Tickets and info http://www.eugeniusthemusical.com/
Running until 3 March 2018
Reviewer: Jason Mollring