03 November 2018
Part cabaret, part musical, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a rowdy sci-fi romp — reminiscent of what a lovechild between Rocky Horror Picture Show and Barbarella would look like. Having been reproduced in both the US and in the UK, this Toronto iteration by Small but Mighty Productions serves it well, though the run was short (October 26th-28th). Buddies in Bad Times Theatre was a good choice of venue, lending a grittiness to the award winning musical.
Fluorescent coloured clothing and ripped fishnets, songs worshipping pleather and cheekily raunchy rhymes about oral sex were fleshed out by a fairly competent cast, though it seemed they needed some time to warm up as a few characters’ voices cracked or fell flat initially. Simple set design lent a downtrodden feel to Saucy Jack’s bar, brilliantly constructed by black-lit milk crates. A set of mics and some diligent sound engineers would have done the production wonders, as at times, even in the small room, backup singers would drown out the main vocalist, or their vocal projection wouldn’t quite cover the intimate space. There were a few powerhouse voices in the cast, but it was clear that not everyone was strong. Chances are high that if the run had been even a little longer, the cast could have warmed up better into their roles.
Saucy Jack’s character (Andrew Eldridge) in particular was cast very well for the part, and his powerful singing voice at times carried the show, but Sam Hancock’s amazing Chesty Prospects/Shirley Tri-Star double bill didn’t let him steal all of the limelight. Her space-scavenger swagger made her an early and lasting favourite throughout the run. Robbie Fention as Booby Shevalle deserves an honourable mention too, with the audience at the show clearly endeared by and rooting for the character the whole time.
The play had serious hilarity and entertainment values, with a tongue-in-cheek feminist slant and witty one-liners fit for a giggle or two. It’s clear as to why the original ’98 production was award winning. The central theme is a murder mystery — who is killing Saucy Jack’s talent? — but there’s funny elements interspersed. The main murder weapon, for example, is a slingback heeled shoe, and there are disco numbers with titles such as “All I Need is Disco,” and “Glitter Boots Saved My Life”. It’s a kinky, fun, and memorable jaunt through a funkier futuristic time.