New Millennium’s latest offering, The Incredible Hank is indeed the stuff of early Saturday morning cartoons (as mentioned as the company’s inspiration in their publicity materials). Written and directed by founding company member, Alex B. Reynolds, The Incredible Hank takes us on a 90 minute journey of reluctant heroes, bumbling sidekicks, and goonies who just can’t catch a break. Set in our current era and the city of Sandicago, the world is blooming with “supers” or ordinary folks who discover they have extraordinary powers. Some become heroes, some villains, and some would rather remain in their day-to-day plain-jane lives. But alas, desperate times call for desperate measures and sometimes heroism and villainy choose you. Enter Hank…
Hank (Mike Movido) is a file clerk… or something. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is that he does is boring, but Hank finds a lot of pride in his work, specifically in rearranging the file cabinets in elegant and efficient displays. Unfortunately the humdrum life that Hank enjoys is quickly interrupted by his office becoming the site of supervillain Dr. Manticle’s (Megan Gill) evil device. Once Dr. Manticle meets her early and untimely end, Hank, alongside his co-worker-turned-friend Carl (the delightful Jordan Pettis) must embrace the superhero within to fight against the evil sidekick duo Flamelia (Jessica Rae Olsen in full badass mode) and Winterion (the chisel-chinned Scott Myers).
The Incredible Hank brought to mind so many other nibblets of pop-culture: Slap Happigans and Connie Karadimos (our news team) are straight out of Anchorman, both side office workers seem like they’re transplants from Office Space, Flamelia, Winterion, and Mirageo reminded me of Futurama’s The New Justice Team (Season 4, Episode 4), and our police officers could’ve walked off of any cop comedy set. With so many flavours to sample, Reynolds has whipped us up smorgasbord of pop-culture delights.
The staging of the show was minimalistic, but Reynolds chose right in shining a light on what production elements they lacked. Why desperately try and convince us that someone is leaping from building to building when you can simply show it with puppets and get a good old laugh? Parody worked for this script and the direction allowed the actors and designers to “go there”. While the staging worked well, The Royal George is an interesting choice for this sort of show. I think it could also work very well in a late night slot at a comedy house. Costumes by Jen Mohr were clearly lovingly built with parody and flashy wonderment in mind.
Performances came at a range, but everyone brought something unique and fun to the game. The duo of Mike Modivo and Jordan Pettis (as Hank and Carl, respectively) was a highlight for me. The challenge of playing the straight man is often overlooked and Modivo handled it very well- I only wish I could’ve seen him embrace the superhero within more, however that is more of a script choice than an actor one. Pettis slayed me. He was hilarious, albeit a wee bit strong at times, but I like seeing choices and boy howdy did he make some daring ones. Jessica Rae Olsen’s Flamelia, Megan Gill’s Dr. Manticle, and Chelsea DeBaise’s massive range of characters serve as further evidence that women are funny as hell. And the rest of the ensemble brought a lot of heart and a love for the genre to their work. Lastly, it wouldn’t be a superhero vs. supervillain show without some dope fight design created by Scott Myers, who used his limited space very well.
If you want to catch a show that is guaranteed to make you laugh, do not miss this one. It runs until June 24th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm at The Royal George Theatre (1641 N Halsted St.). Tickets are only $20. For more information on this and New Millennium Theatre Company, please visit www.nmtchicago.org.
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