Comic Cosmic Consciousness

The Wallis Studio Ensemble’s The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a stage renditiion of Douglas Adams’ sci fi send-up that has been adapted for radio, books, television and the movies. This fast-moving 90 minute version minus intermission is performed by around 10 youthful, colorfully costumed cast members. While today’s auds are used to state of the art CGI, Galaxy deploys low tech special effects on the mostly bare boards of the Lovelace Studio Theater. The FX include puppetry and masks by Alex Sheldon and Bosco Flanagan’s lighting design, which would have warmed the cockles of Bill Graham’s heart at Fillmore West rock concerts. Speaking of music, there is a little bit of live accordion and piano playing by Sheldon during the show, as well as recordings of songs such as Disco Inferno.


Since its first iteration as a radio series in 1978, Galaxy has garnered an intergalactic coterie of fans for the frenetically paced stage experience (ticket buyers are encouraged to wear their own weird science fiction-y outfits to the show). The space opera strives for a philosophical vibe, asking the big questions, such as what is the meaning of life (although, for the price of admission, don’t expect a serious, deep answer).


It’s all very high energy, and delivered mostly with what we Yanks would dub “a British accent,” but unlike the playwright and the director/sound designer Madeleine Dahm, the thesps actually don’t hail from the UK. Alabaman Siera Williams romps around in pajamas; Maui’s Viva Kanani Obiajulu Wittman wittily wheels about on roller skates in a gold lame type outfit and helmet; the narrator, Schuyler Girion, appears to speak the Queen’s English but is identified in the playbill as an “Angeleno”, and so on. If one is not up on Galaxy characters and storylines it can be hard to understand and bewildering, although the whirligig is gob-smacking good fun to behold. At least the performers all seem to be having an entertaining time.


It’s all very absurd adding up to a mildly amusing show that will likely be most enjoyed by theatergoers who prefer to walk on the wild side, sci fans, Galaxy aficionados and people with plenty of money to burn and time on their hands. Since this saga stakes a stab at philosophy, I’ll leave you with this thought:


Hitchhikers know exactly what’s wrong with the universe. As they try to get from one place to another by relying upon the kindness of strangers, their thumbs aloft as vehicles - often mostly empty, with plenty of space for passengers - hitchhikers realize that across the greedy galaxy, society’s big problem is: The haves do not share with the have nots.


The Wallis Studio Ensemble’s The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is being performed Friday, June 7 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, June 8 at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 9 at 3:00 p.m. through June 9 in the Lovelace Studio Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. For info: (310)746-4000; .


The third edition of “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book” co-authored by Rampell is available at: .