Play: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Group: Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre

Venue: Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar

Dates: May 2, 3

Tickets: $10 and $15; contact 314-534-1111 or

Story: American rock super-group KISS, alias Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley, were the stars of a 1978 made-for-TV movie about the diabolical plan of an amusement park engineer-turned mad scientist to unleash an army of ruthless robots on the public during a KISS rock concert. With the help of some local teens, the frolicking, feline-makeup foursome saved the day for park patrons and the world to boot.

Highlights: The intrepid actors of Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre perform their tongue-in-cheek rendition of the original campy flick in their typical wacky way. Artistic director Donna Northcott is a seasoned pro at orchestrating the silly, goofy MSMT schtick that works so well, utilizing a cheesy set designed by Dave Froeckmann that makes the most of cardboard on the minuscule stage. Lisa Beke’s costumes stand out, highlighted by the garish adornments of the KISS quartet, and Jim Stewart’s props incorporate everything from a rubber arm to monster masks. Steve Moore and Shawn Bell contribute the suitably supportive lighting and sound designs, and Jim Ousley’s adaptation succinctly captures the appropriate tone for this 45-minute parody.

Other Info: Acting capably demonstrates the highly skilled classical training (well, kind of) of such troupe stalwarts as Chris "Mr." Jones as Gene, Ben Ritchie as Peter, Jim Ousley as Paul and Collin Preciado as Ace. Aaron Orion Baker is drolly appropriate as mad genius Abner Devereaux, Rory Flynn is the stoically stuffy park owner and Luke Lindberg is Sam, an unsuspecting fellow who becomes prey to Devereaux’s fiendish plot.

Diane Wittling is Sam’s worrisome fiancée, with Roger Erb, Julie Layton and Amy Elz as a tough-talkin’ biker trio. Kurt Jarvis, Adam Thenhaus and Jaysen Cryer are three thick-witted security guards and Kimberly Sansone is an avid KISS fan.

It’s all quick and painless fluff delivered with charm (?) and affection.

Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.