Three sequels and counting, forty-three video games so far, five different theme park rides, comic books galore… Jurassic Park just keeps on entertaining, and never more so than at Rockwell Table + Stage where executive producer/writer Kate Pazakis and her all-Equity cast of triple-threat musical theater zanies have once again gathered to spoof a Hollywood movie classic like it’s never been spoofed before in The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of Jurassic Park.

 Was (Not Was)’s “Walk The Dinosaur” introduces UMPO Jurassic’s cast of characters: paleontologist Alan (Keir Kirkegaard), paleobotanist grad student Ellie (Lesley McKinnell), billionaire theme park entrepreneur Hammond (Owain Rhys Davies), Hammond’s precocious grandkids Lex (Lana McKissack) and Tim (Amanda Kruger), park supervisor Arnold (Dedrick Bonner), lawyer Gennaro (E.K. Dagenfield), and game warden Muldoon (Dagenfield).

Also along for the bumpy ride are chaos theorist Goldblum (Michael Thomas Grant), redubbed here to pay tribute to the actor who’s played him in three out of the four Jurassic Park movies released so far, and lead programmer Newman (Dagenfield), renamed to honor the rotund Seinfeld character who was his movie doppelganger and whose plan to smuggle out dinosaur embryo samples inside a custom-made Barbasol can sets disaster in motion.

 Classic lines get spouted with glee (“I’ll shut you down! In 48 hours I’ll shut you down!” “This is a leaf from the Triassic period! Incredible! I can’t believe my eyes!” “He’s got a T-Rex! A T-Rex! A T-Rex!”) as new ones get added with equal delight. (“All the animals in Jurassic Park are females. They all got hoohahs.”)

 Songs get sung, from Ke$ha’s “Dinosaur” to Hall & Oates’s “Maneater” to Destiny’s Child “Survivor” to Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” to less obvious choices like Pink’s “What About Us,” David Guetta’s “Titanium,” The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” (sung by a stiletto-heeled Bonner in honor of the approaching storm), and Dr. Doolitle’s “Pure Imagination,” all of them performed by a cast whose Broadway, regional, movie, TV, and recording credits could fill pages. Oh, and it wouldn’t be Jurassic Park without John Williams’s instantly recognizable theme, given sing-along lyrics UMPO style. (“It’s Jurassic Park. It’s Jurassic Park. It’s a park of dinosaurs.”)

 Ace scripter Pazakis and whiz director Nathan Moore recreate the movie’s most memorable sequences with abundant imagination, making use of every inch of Table + Stage’s tables and stage.

Hammond’s video presentation of how dino DNA got extracted from mosquitoes preserved in amber and blended with frog DNA becomes a bodies-intertwining ballet for three. An audience member standing in for an ailing Triceratops gets warned “You might feel a slight discomfort” when a latex-gloved Ellie moves in a for a stool sample. T-Rex devours Newman while the latter seeks shelter on a toilet.

 And just wait till you see T-Rex in all her prehistoric glory, or a just-hatched baby raptor, or self-driving electric tour vehicles that provide little protection from the dinos around them, or the tennis-ball-sized head atop a plant-eating Brachiosaurus, or the pair of raptors who terrorize Lex and Tim, all of the above recreated with limited-budget ingenuity taking the place of a hundred-million movie bucks.

And lest I forget, Grant’s “Goldblum” takes every advantage of publicizing the real Jeff’s Wednesday night shows at Rockwell, that is when he’s not asking Ellie (or any cast member within rubbing distance) to “hydrate“ his “parched” chest (in honor of Goldbum’s Playgirl cover-ready movie pose).

 In other words, audiences are guaranteed the same infectious mix of wacky, occasionally raunchy comedy (both scripted and ad libbed), hit songs (performed by some of the most talented vocalists in town with musical director Gregory Nabours and his band* providing rip-roaring backup), dance (choreographed this time with delicious flair by Mallory Butcher), and multiple movie memories. (A refresher viewing of the 1993 Steven Spielberg original will double your pleasure, double your fun.)

Performances could not be more sparkling or dynamic, from Kirkegaard’s intrepid hunk of a Grant to McKinnell’s delightfully scatterbrained Ellie to McKissack and Kruger’s irrepressible pair of ragamuffins.

 Dagenfield zigzags from character to character to character, stealing every scene he’s in in the shortest shorts in town

 Davies is a younger, hotter dead-ringer for Richard Attenborough’s Hammond, Bonner belts to high heaven in 4-inch heels no less, and Pazakis’s T-Rex hits notes to reach the stratosphere.

 Most memorable of the bunch is Grant’s hilariously spot-on take on Jeff Goldblum, trademark stammer and all, easily the best showcase so far for the charismatic, vocally blessed recording/musical theater up-and-comer.

Chadd McMillian scores high marks for designing costumes and props that both evoke the movie originals and suggest prehistoric creatures in the cleverest, most amusing of ways. Joey Guthman’s lighting design is another Rockwell dazzler (Jagger Waters is lighting board operator) while Julia Pinhey’s sound design provides an expert vocal/instrumental mix (Ivan Irvani is sound board operator).

 Sunday matinees star Anna Grace Barlow, Zack Colonna, Rhett George, Bianca Giselle, Trevin Goin, Pablo Rossil, Spencer Strong Smith, Molly Stilliens, and Sterling Sulieman.

McMillan is production manager and production stage manager. Ashley Balderrama is production coordinator.

From Home Alone to Mean Gurlz to Bridesmaids to Hocus Pocus and now, in quite possibly its most challenging assignment to date, Rockwell Table + Stage’s Unauthorized Musical Parody series’ patented mix of movies, comedy, and pop/rock never fails to deliver. Check out UMPO’s latest for one Jurassically stupendous time.

*Blake Estrada, Nabours, Emily Rosenfield, and Greg Sadler

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Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont, Los Angeles. Through April 28. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 12:00 noon. Reservations: 323 669-1550

–Steven Stanley
February 9, 2018
Photos: Bryan Carpender


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