One of the exciting things about Fringe Festivals is that you always happen upon brand new, original musicals, which is a rarity in Halifax theatre during the rest of the year. The Make ‘Em Ups Improv Company’s Invasion: The Musical written by Steven Heisler, with music by Brent Hares, Evan Smith and Steven Heisler, is a fun and creative show with high production values and magical props.
During an alien invasion Fay finally manages to leave her cheating boyfriend, Lance, and runs into the apartment of Herb, her awkward and nerdy neighbor who harbors a secret crush on her. Which one will be able to best help her survive the impending threat from the aliens?
The arc of the story is nicely honed and Herb, Fay and Lance come to vivid life in Henricus Gielis, Becca Guilderson and Brent Hares respectively. The music and the script is stronger than the songs’ lyrics, which would benefit from driving the plot forward and reflecting more specifically each character’s personality and state of mind, rather than centering on the words that rhyme. Brent Hares is especially hilarious channeling Prince, in his douchey “come back to me, baby” number. Becca Guilderson gives a complete star turn as Fay, and every time she sings the audience is catapulted into musical theatre bliss. Henricus Gielis is perfectly suited as an actor to play Herb, but singing is not his strength so it may be beneficial for the music to adapt to showcase Gielis’ many other talents instead.
I loved the concept of Steven Heisler as the television and the quality of the filmic aspects of the show are impressive. I thought that Heisler could be a little more cutting and delve a little deeper into his satire of the CNN/FOX Breaking News culture.
I think this musical has a lot of potential to grow and to solidify into something really unique and really exciting. It makes me think that this was likely what an early incarnation of Little Shop of Horrors would have been like. I hope we see more from Invasion: The Musical in the future.