It's such a treat to go into a show knowing very little to nothing about it, and walk out delighted, entertained, and eager to recommend it to your friends! That's exactly how I felt after watching The Explorers Club at Lyric Arts on Friday night.
The show is set in a very stuffy 1870's London, but the play is anything but that. The energy of the show starts off high and doesn't come down for a second. The Explorers Club is made up of six men with tales of adventures and creatures from around the globe. They cheer “to science!” and happily brag amongst themselves about what they've done and seen and are about to be thrown for a loop when a member of the club, Lucius Fretway, wants to admit a woman. Not only is the woman in question, Phyllida Spotte-Hume, a scientist in her own right having recently discovered an entire lost civilization, Lucius also has a not-so-secret crush on Phyllida, even going so far as to name a plant he recently discovered after her.
When Phyllida comes onto the scene, played by the always delightful Jessica Scott, she brings along a “savage,” a member of the lost civilization she discovered and names him Luigi. Luigi, all blue skin and curious movements, is the absolute highlight of the show, played by Brendan Veerman, who I last saw contort and transform into Igor in Lyric Arts' production of Young Frankenstein. Veerman's portrayal of Luigi could have gone a million different ways in the hands of a less skilled actor, but his Luigi was an absolute riot. Luigi isn't portrayed as some foolish brute that must be taught in the ways of Victorian society, but a fully formed character who is comfortable with his own customs, but does his best to learn new ones, including learning the art of bartending and how to properly bow to royalty.
Aside from the dynamic cast, the world this show inhabits was executed beautifully with the set design. It is with such (seeming) ease that the talented crew at Lyric Arts' is able to use this little space in Anoka and take the audience all around the world with each show they produce. The club in this show is exactly what you would imagine, and then some, when conjuring up the idea of a 19th century adventure tale.
This show was a brilliant choice to kick of Lyric Arts' latest season. It had endless laugh-out-loud moments, non-stop energy and a fantastic cast!
Oh, and the refreshed lobby looks great!
Roxy Orcutt, The Halloween Honey, is a local author and theater enthusiast. Her book, “History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital,” explores Anoka, MN, its spooky tales, colorful characters, and why it is named the “Halloween Capital of the World.” It is available for sale online at www.HalloweenHoney.com.