Sci-fi odyssey bombards eyes and ears
Intergalactic Nemesis combines radio play with graphic novel
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth
Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival
May 27 to 31
Save-On Foods Stage (Arden Theatre)
Tickets: $10. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at ticketmaster.ca
Listen up everyone. Aliens are about to invade planet Earth. However, our intrepid heroes are zipping across the galaxy to fight these evil forces.
A full play-by-play of this sci-fi action odyssey will be broadcast through The Intergalactic Nemesis: Target Earth coming soon the International Children’s Festival from May 27 to 31.
A truly one-of-a-kind hybrid, this 90-minute visual feast is best described as a live-action graphic novel. It combines a radio play script, music, sound effects and 1,250 panels of comic book art projected on a large background screen.
The year is 1933. In this extra-terrestrial adventure, fearless reporter Molly Sloan, accompanied by her loyal sidekick Timothy Mendez, team up with librarian Ben Wilcott to stop the sinister Mysterion’s enterprise.
Instead, they uncover the story of the century. A mysterious alien race known as Zygonians are about to take over Earth and the trio is the only thing standing in their way.
Time travel, space travel, romance, mystery and action are all part of this heroic retro adventure.
“It’s really about story and character. Ben particularly speaks to you through his struggles. The characters face challenges and find ways to overcome the challenges through pluck and will power,” said creator Jason Neulander.
Standing in front of microphones, three vocally flexible actors – Danu Uribe, Brock England and Christopher Lee Gibson – provide the voices to a horde of characters.
On centre stage in front of the audience, sound effects expert Cami Alys manipulates objects to create every sound effect needed.
Surrounded by loads of gadgets and noisemakers, and injecting her jazz-trained voice when needed, she creates every sound ranging from creepy alien phantoms to howling Transylvanian wolves to a bristling ray gun Neulander.
Also visible to the audience at stageside is Berklee-trained pianist Kenneth Redding Jr. performing music that acts as a counterbalance to the racket of sound effects. Floating like an invisible current through each scene, it ties all the elements together.
“On the piano Ken creates a complete cinematic score. The score is based on 09themes dictated by the script, but almost the entire show is improvised,” said Neulander, also artistic director of the avant-garde Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin, Texas.
With so much going on, people are mesmerized and it might be difficult to pick up everything during the first viewing, Neulander said.
“Some people can’t take their eyes off the voice actors. Some find the sound effects fascinating. I get sucked up into the storytelling on the screen. But it has very obvious appeal with so much going on.”
The concept for this graphic novel grew in stages over a decade. In 1996 Ray Colgan approached Neulander to create a sci-fi radio serial to be performed live in instalments. The seed for Intergalactic Nemesis was a hit with crowds.
By 2000, Buzz Moran, the sound effects genius, bought a portable digital recording studio and they remounted the show as a theatrical play with broadcast quality recording.
By 2009, the storyline received a complete rewrite into a pulpy space adventure based on the 1930s comic book style. Neulander also approached artist Tim Doyle to create backdrops. In September 2010 the full show premiered and was a hit.
Although the graphic novel is based during the Depression, Neulander’s inspiration was drawn from Star Wars.
“I was seven years old when Star Wars came out. That kind of entertainment pushes my buttons and I hearken back to that. This makes me recognize the kid in me. It’s a coming-of-age story that’s unabashedly about the imagination and taps right into 12-year-olds. The whole thing is very character driven.”
Neulander thanks his lucky stars that he pre-empted Hollywood with the graphic novel-radio play concept.
“When I came up with the idea, no one was doing it. Now Hollywood has taken off with a lot of comic book projects and podcasts. And we’ve taken off with a whole new audience of radio play fans.”