Molly Stilliens as the T-RexEXPAND
Molly Stilliens as the T-Rex
Bryan Carpender

T-Rex Crashes the Party at Rockwell's UMPO: Jurassic Park

Dinosaurs sing and Jeff Goldblum twitches fetchingly in The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Jurassic Park, the latest entry in Rockwell Table & Stage's UMPO series. A talented cast (actually two, as it's double cast) gives its all to this condensed version of the blockbuster movie, set to songs ranging from "Walk the Dinosaur" (duh) to "Maneater." It's all good fun and often very clever.

The first question that comes to mind is, of course, how will they do the dinosaurs? The creators of this show are very creative indeed. UMPO creator Kate Pazakis (who wrote the show), director Nathan Moore and choreographer Mallory Butcher play with the notion of movie dinosaurs, using simple materials such as foam rubber but also spoofing the motion-capture CGI we've all become familiar with.

Michael Thomas Grant as GoldblumEXPAND
Michael Thomas Grant as Goldblum
Bryan Carpender

Throughout the show, the jokes fly fast and furious, spinning out of the actual movie but also from the actors rather than the characters. In fact, one character here is just named Goldblum (an excellent Michael Thomas Grant, his idiosyncratic delivery perfect), and the character played in the movie by Wayne Knight is called Newman (E.K. Dagenfield). As Dr. Arnold, Dedrick Bonner spices his outstanding performance with a few classic Samuel L. Jackson lines.

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It's hard to imagine anyone isn't familiar with Jurassic Park the movie, but there's enough plot spelled out here to get the gist across. Performers roam throughout the restaurant space, and audience members may find themselves pulled onstage or momentarily adorned with a triceratops headpiece.

Tim (Amanda Kruger) meets his hero, Dr. Grant (Keir Kierkegaard).EXPAND
Tim (Amanda Kruger) meets his hero, Dr. Grant (Keir Kierkegaard).
Bryan Carpender

Part of the fun comes from the song choices. "Welcome to the Jungle" is a natural to accompany the group's travel to the island where the dinos live, while Goldblum's rendition of "Born to Be Wild" goes well with his warning that "life will find a way" when it comes to breeding, even in the all-female-dino Jurassic Park.

The UMPO series has an avid following, and its fans know what they're going to get. (Upcoming parodies include Dirty Dancing and Thelma and Louise.) UMPO: Jurassic Park is a real crowd-pleaser that provides an excellent introduction to the genre.

Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; through April 28; (323) 669-1550, rockwell-la.com.


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