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It Came From Outer Space

June 22

July 24, 2022

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare

book and music by Joe Kinosian
book and lyrics by Kellen Blair
based on the Universal Pictures film
directed by Laura Braza

Put on Your 3D Glasses Now!

A Note from Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair
 

In 2016 we took a break from the contentious headlines to see a revival house screening of It Came From Outer Space, complete with 3D glasses. The first big 3D effect came when John Putnam’s telescope swung suddenly into frame. The whole audience went “Whoooooa!” and then giggled. It was a hoot.

We later learned that it was Universal Pictures’ first-ever 3D film and it gave us an idea. What if we adapted it into the first-ever 3D stage musical?! Our hopes were slightly dashed when we realized that every stage musical ever has in fact been in 3D, by the very nature of being performed live in a three-dimensional reality. But then we thought about it more and realized that what made the original effect so special wasn’t necessarily the 3D itself, but the fact that the filmmakers were being inventive, playful, pulling off a dazzling feat, making the audience go “Whoooooa!” and then giggle. And that felt very theatrical to us, something worth digging into a little further.

When said digging began, we made an interesting discovery. Swinging telescopes and flying saucers aren’t the only things being given the 3D treatment in this sci-fi classic; there are also the people and (spoiler alert) aliens that inhabit the small town of Sand Rock, Arizona. Without giving anything away (we’re presuming you haven’t watched the play yet, but are in fact patiently waiting for it to start while the rest of the audience files in), the film has a theme of the “fear of otherness” that makes it stand apart from more straightforward sci-fi fare of the era.

Ray Bradbury, a champion of progressive ideals in his science fiction writing, wanted to give you all the thrills and chills but also wanted to make you think, just a little, about the world we inhabit together. He’s asking you—in between screams as flying debris pops out from the screen—to really take a look at the people around you. To see if, just maybe, they start to pop out at you too.

If you look closely while watching the movie you can see all the strings and wires making the flying objects move. (Okay, we’ll be honest, you don’t even have to look too closely.) But hey, that’s what happens when you start looking at things in 3D. You see everything a little more clearly, even the flaws. It’s what makes the feat of live theater so fun to watch. And it’s what makes real life so complex and beautiful.

So put on your 3D glasses (and stop looking for them in the program—it’s a metaphor, okay?) and enjoy the length, width, and depth of the world that these six brilliant performers (not to mention some of the finest designers, creatives, and theater staff we’ve had the pleasure of working with) are about to create in front of you.

If we’ve all done our jobs, you’ll giggle and say “Whoooooa!” at least once.

 

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