NEW JERSEY HIGH SCHOOL Impresses HOLLYWOOD with “ALIEN: THE PLAY”

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In 1979 a 20th Century Fox sci-fi horror film starring Sigourney Weaver became a box office hit and a codifier of the survival horror sub-genre in space. “Alien,” directed by top-rank filmmaker Ridley Scott was also commended for its set design and special effects work that went into the titular alien, which eventually became one of Hollywood’s most recognizable movie monsters. Forty years later, and with plenty of sequels, prequels and other related media under its belt, the “Alien” franchise was pleasantly surprised at just how permeated their intellectual property is with people, if a high school musical adaptation is any indicator of mass appeal.

That was no fake news. Entertainment Weekly reports that over the weekend the intrepid drama club students of North Bergen High School in New Jersey has staged a two-night run of their stage adaptation of “Alien.” With a sufficiently convincing sci-fi spaceship stage setting and a mind-blowing full costume of the monstrous Xenomorph alien from the film, “Alien: The Play” has wowed not only its audience of parents and teachers, but also outside observers and Hollywood itself once videos of the production started spreading on social media. North Bergen even made a trailer for it.

One major plus for the “Alien: The Play” stage production was the fact that all materials used for props and setting were literally taken from the trash, in a magnificent example of recycling for art. “This is going to sound really funny but (the set crew used) garbage essentially,” remarked North Bergen High senior Justin Pierson, who was on the stage play’s sound crew. “Just anything that was lying around like cardboard and metal.” From the reactions posted on social media by those who watched the production this past Saturday and Sunday, one would think they had a Broadway-level budget.

Having North Bergen High School adapt Ridley Scott’s “Alien” for the stage was the brainchild of their drama teacher Perfecto Cuervo. Working with the movie screenplay, Cuervo devoted two months’ worth of evenings and weekends to create the 1-hour and 40-minute treatment used by his drama club students. And with the praise from the official “Alien” franchise Twitter account, one cannot help but think a theatrical outfit might try bringing “Alien: The Play” to Broadway eventually. It is not a musical, but it makes for some very intense horror drama coupled with practical stage effects. You never know for sure.

Image from New York Times

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