What do you get when you cross a droid with a toaster? Only the Mouse knows. Weber State University musical theater senior Rick Rea’s original production, “May the Mouse Be with You,” running at Ogden’s Ziegfeld Theater, explores this and many other corners of the “Star Wars”/Disney-owned galaxy and beyond.
It might be apropos that the merger between “Star Wars” and Disney took place on Halloween 2012, since some comically scary potentialities are what Rea’s production parodies. Obi Wan looks like a cross between a tall seventh dwarf and a “Fantasia”-attired Mickey Mouse with a long, white, fake-fur beard and wizard hat. R2-D2 looks like Pixar’s (Disney offshoot) WALL-E, and C-3PO has a personality and voice that’s distinctly “Wizard of Oz-“esque. Darth Vader . . . well, let’s just say you’ll need to see to believe what he’s been reduced to.
In such a galaxy, there is no serious allusion to evil or war, except for Princess Leia referencing how everyone lives on the Death Star since Vader blew up all their planets. Much as “Star Wars” used aliens to send us a message about diversity and acceptance of others, Rea’s spoof gets to say that, since Leia is from Alderon, she’s barely human. Knowledge that Luke and Leia are brother and sister gets exposed, and George Lucas reveals the relative success or failure of the different “Star Wars” episodes via diary spots. Several freakish Disney characters (and there really aren’t any; I’m just seeing if you can guess) play sax with the aliens in the famous bar scene from “Star Wars,” and instead of keeping up with the Joneses, we have to keep up with the Calrissians. The production plays with how Disney can stay relevant, “Star Wars” true, and how either can speak to us in our present times.
One way that Rea’s production does this is that plenty of pop culture and current events get thrown into the mix in either dialogue or song. For “Our Only Hope,” we have a “church without a pope” (now old news, so we’ll see what Rea does with that). Han Solo trumps Lando in an implicated reversal of “once you go black, you never go back,” and we learn Alderon was formerly the destination for the biggest rainbow parade in the galaxy. Instead of living on a wing and a prayer in the Millenium Falcon (which does show up, though), Rea takes us into a world on the wing of clever lyrics, a journey into a magical no-space space of song, motion and satire. Hindsight, music and comedy allow for such license, and Rea milks them all.
Though the whole production is humorous, there are definitely parts that soared higher than others. But, from the nonstop laughter of the Disney/”Star Wars” geeks sitting behind me, I concluded that perhaps one’s enjoyment of the production may be directly proportional to one’s knowledge of both Disney and “Star Wars.” Rea’s production can be considered family-friendly, and no matter your level of “Star Wars”/Disney prowess, the point is you will laugh (and I’m not using the Force when I say that).
For more mature laughter that is still kept clean, with audience instructions to yell “objection” at objectionable material, adults who wish to stay up late can remain for the Ziegfeld’s improv show that starts at 10:30 p.m. every Friday night. This is composed of founding regulars of the Off the Wall Comedy Improv group, which includes the co-owner of the Ziegfeld, Caleb Parry (co-owned with wife, Morgan Parry), Rea, and other WSU students or alumni, many of whom are actors in “May the Mouse Be With You,” and all of whom have clearly found a way to take joy in giving it. Since laughter is the best medicine, I consider my taking in both shows a live “double-feature” dose of medicine. And I didn’t even need a spoonful of sugar for the medicine to go down.
“May the Mouse Be With You” finishes its run March 14-16, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at Zigarts.com or at the door. Improv Night is just $5 at the door any Friday, starting at 10:30 p.m.