May the Musical Be with You by AYNE Productions, directed by Mike Tober, is a musical parody of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope written and produced by AYNE founder Rebekah Kjetland. It’s playing at the Historic Mounds Theatre in St. Paul through October 9, 2016.
Being a huge fan of Star Wars, and especially Episode IV, I was particularly excited to see this production. I went into it hoping it would be spectacular, and Kjetland and Tober did not let me down. By intermission, I was already recommending it to my friends; by the end of the show, I was deciding when I would see it again. Afterward, listening to audience members talk about how much they enjoyed the show reinforced my opinions.
There are so many note-worthy things about May the Musical Be with You, but for the purposes of this review, I will mention my top three favorites. Where do I even begin? In a galaxy far, far away? You would think so, but this story actually starts prior to that far-off galaxy, at the typewriter of Mr. George Lucas—brilliantly played by Kyler Chase, my favorite part of the show. The show is narrated by Lucas as the story of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope develops in his mind. Chase’s stand-out performance, full of excitement and passion, made me think of a proud father talking about his newborn. This is his baby, and he can’t wait to share it with the world.
My second favorite performance was that of Darth Vader, played by Matt Allen. Allen’s Vader, with his strong singing voice, is powerful and intimidating yet very comical. Without giving away spoilers, let’s just say that every villain needs a casual Friday.
Lastly, the musical numbers, most by Hunter Nolan and Tim Smith of Infauxmedia, are catchy, funny, and a perfect fit with the show. Two songs were written locally: “Ready, Aim, and Fire” by Kjetland and “May the Force Be with You” by Tober.
Mounds Theatre has a smaller stage, so the use of extravagant props isn’t supported. That being said, they weren’t needed for this production. I enjoyed the minimal props because it made me focus more on the musical numbers and the acting. Frankly, within minutes of the opening number I didn’t even realize there weren’t many props. A show program would have been beneficial although a cast list is available online.
Speaking of the technical elements, one thing that I often have trouble with is sound. With slight hearing loss, I sometimes have difficulty making out what is being said on stage if the actors’ voices are not projected, the microphones cut out, or the music overpowers voices. In this production, only twice did I briefly struggle with hearing the singer over the music. The actors all have strong stage voices.
Casting for this musical is very close to the actual characters we loved on the big screen. Most notable is Han Solo, played by Daniel Flohr, and C3PO, played by Peter Kistler. Their looks and mannerisms make their characters even more believable. I’d also like to mention the characters of Patrice (Bailey Murphy), and Dave (Carl Swanson). Their personalities and rapport with each other is highly entertaining, and you truly believe they have been partners for a long time.
I could go on about how much I absolutely enjoyed this show, but I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I highly suggest you go see it for yourself. Kjetland, Tober, and the rest of the cast and crew did a great job of keeping me entertained throughout the entire performance.