“The One-Hour Star Wars Trilogy: Live!”

Play:        “The One-Hour Star Wars Trilogy: Live!”

Group:        Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre

Venue:        Regional Arts Commission Theatre, 6128 Delmar

Dates:        April 30, May 1, 7, 8

Tickets:    From $10 to $15; contact 1-800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com

Story:    It’s the complete saga (well, the original three-part saga, anyway, that hit the silver screen in segments from 1977 through 1983) of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi Wan Kenobi, the “Force,” the Millenium Falcon and all the sundry, colorful characters who populated George Lucas’ space opera that now amazingly has been around for more than three decades.  Yoda is here, and Lando Calrissian, Jabba the Hut and others as Luke and Solo battle the infamous Darth Vader to save Leia and her kingdom from the clutches of evil “long ago in a galaxy far, far away”…

Highlights:    Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre has been offering irreverent takeoffs of popular cultural icons since 1996, lampooning such beloved classics as “Planet of the Apes,” “Lord of the Rings,” “The Ten Commandments,” “Glen or Glenda” and others in wide open, straight-ahead, no-holds-barred style.  They’re quick and generally painless and often quite funny.

    Such is the case with this off-kilter paean to the original “Star Wars” trilogy of “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” before they became chapters preceded by three less-than-stellar prequels (coyly noted in the script here).  Director Donna Northcott gets sufficient mileage from her energetic cast to provide an abundance of laughs in 60 tidy minutes, more than offsetting the jokes that don’t work in this reprise of an earlier Monkey effort.

Other Info:    The fun-loving cast includes Chris Jones as the font of wisdom, aged Jedi warrior Obi Wan “Ben” Kenobi, and also as the string-pulling power behind a Yoda who looks suspiciously like Kermit the Frog with Vulcan ears.  Roger Erb is a hoot as Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, complete with an oversized can of Colt 45 malt liquor.

    Nick Kelly provides the booming voice and grumpy demeanor of nasty ol’ Darth, Amy Kelly plays the feisty and feckless Princess Leia and Ben Ritchie has an abundant supply of witty rejoinders as the fast-talkin’, fast-shootin’, glib hero, Han Solo.  Joshua Nash Payne brings a fresh-faced, vacuous approach to wholesome Luke, Andrew Keller is Solo’s furry navigator, Chewbacca and David Moreshead is the loyal and proper droid, C3PO, who also is the guardian of sorts for C3PO, who here suspiciously resembles a portable waste basket.  Adam Flores, Beth Wickenhauser, C. Blaine Adams, Mike Juncal (a critter-chompin’ Jabba), Jimmy Krawczyk and James Slover complete the wacky cast.

    Northcott keeps everything moving at an appropriately manic pace designed to get audiences immediately into the mood immediately and quickly out the door.  Mission accomplished.  May the Force be with them all!

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