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Theater review

Review: Dinosaurs roam the stage in Stray Dog's entertaining 'Triassic Parq'

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Triassic Park

From left: Laurell Stevenson, Dawn Schmid, Tristan Davis, Rachel Bailey and Michael Wells in the Stray Dog Theatre production of "Triassic Parq." Photo by John Lamb

What is it about dinosaurs that engages the imagination? The fact that such humongous creatures once roamed an Earth devoid of humans? Or that, having enjoyed such monumental status, their fate was to become extinct?

Perhaps these questions are simply unanswerable. But one thing’s for sure: Connoisseurs of dinosaurs are likely to have a fun time at “Triassic Parq: The Musical,” a goofily entertaining Stray Dog Theatre production.

As the title implies, the show is a musical parody of the “Jurassic Park” films. And you might be thinking: Isn’t that blockbuster franchise so ridiculous in the first place that it’s a poor target for satire?

Perhaps. But not for silliness, which is in abundant supply in this show with music by Marshall Pailet and book and lyrics by Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo. Directed by Justin Been, “Triassic Parq,” is very much in the spirit of “Who’s Holiday,” Stray Dog’s yuletide sendup of the world of Dr. Seuss.

The plot, such as it is, involves what happens in a theme park featuring female dinosaurs when one of them suddenly becomes male. And yes, there are quite a few jokes about a certain part of that dinosaur’s anatomy.

It’s interesting to speculate about just how an actor portrays a dinosaur in a musical parody. What goes into getting into character? What life experiences would be relevant? Or is it just a matter of committing to the material — something like being in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch? Which, come to think of it, “Triassic Parq” closely resembles.

But the true measure of an amusement such as this is whether the audience enjoys it. And indeed, on a recent evening, folks definitely seemed delighted.

Kudos to the cast, which includes Rachel Bailey, Tristan Davis, Bryce Miller, Dawn Schmid, Laurell Stevenson (in the dual roles of a dinosaur and Morgan Freeman — yes, that Morgan Freeman) and Michael Wells.

Been brings to the proceedings a comic energy worthy of Looney Tunes flicks. And Josh Smith’s set, Eileen Engel’s costumes and Tyler Duenow’s lighting are just right.

One more thing: Dinosaurs notwithstanding, this show is not for children. It has nothing to do with Barney and his friends, or the adorable but anachronistic pet Dino on the old “Flintstones” TV show. “Triassic Parq” is for adults who wouldn’t mind seeing a show that pokes fun at gargantuan reptiles. And if that’s you, it’s a must-see experience.

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