To the Streets of Broadway, and Beyond!
“Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Society invites dreamers to go out there and seize what they want, to become who they see themselves being. The titular Kyle Sugarman believes in this idea, times ten, in Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman, written by Michael Mitnick and directed by Bro. Gary Morris, SM at Chaminade University’s Loo Theatre.
Starting off on a somber note, we see one of the very few glimpses of Kyle’s father (Angelo Oasay) as he delivers terrible news about his sister. The whiskey in his hand, the unwillingness to just set things straight with his son, the pain he is working through- this opening monologue sets the permeating shadow of reality and darkness that the rest of the play runs parallel against. Leaping ahead ten years or so, we see Kyle (Kainoa Enos) writing to Broadway about his play that he wrote entitled Spacebar. It’s a cliché riddled piece about Captain Iditarod (Oasay), the owner of a bar in space called Spacebar. He entertains many a space traveler in his bar, like the old and profane Mortimer Pip, the rollerblading Southern Belle, Esmeralda Happenstance (Aya Dysarz), and the jetpacking moneybags man Playboy McMannahan (Elijah Abramo). He plays on familiar tropes, and bases all of his characters on separate styles of writing/theatre/archetypes, and it all feels delightfully hokey- considering 16-year old Kyle Sugarman wrote it. As he writes to Broadway (literally heading his letters, “Dear Broadway,” and reading a response asking, “how did you get this address?”), the stories of Spacebar continue, but as does his real life.
Kyle Sugarman, the archetypal theatre nerd (just look a the walls of his room on the set), is obviously not popular, not hip, and not happening. This is why it’s such a big deal when the girl of his dreams, Jessica (Jeni-Marin Ruis), starts to pay more attention to him after a drunken dance encounter at a social event they both attended. She ends up being his rock, urging him to continue with his play and ultimately convinces him to fly to New York to get his play done properly (“Broadway” only wanted to do a staged reading, the nerve!). Kyle then meets Fancy Magee, off-Broadway producer, and his dreams start to come true! Or do they?
It sounds crazy and it feels like a 16-year old wrote it. That’s the point, and that’s where the charm lies. The entirety of the play, from Kyle’s interactions with this “Broadway” to his idea that this play is the best work of art ever to the shenanigans that ensue when Fancy Magee starts rehearsals, is inherently fantastical. A certain suspension of disbelief is needed to fully enjoy this play, but once you accept the absurdity, you begin to enjoy it and relish in it. The world that Kyle’s Spacebar takes place is really a fun one, with old-timey 18th century clothing accented with light-up LEDS, metallic rollerblades, and space beer that is clear and that lights up (props to Sr. Grace Capellas, OSF, the costume designer, and Claire Paul, Thi Chhoen, and Christopher Patrinos for their Props/Set design). It may look and sound like a Disney or Nickelodeon show for teens, but between Mitnick’s clever writing that isn’t afraid to wink at the audience and the cast’s endeavor to embrace the campiness and craziness of it all you’ll find a fun, fresh experience awaiting.
For a fun, fantastical, and relatable (there’s a bit of Kyle in all of us) story about a boy learning to stand with his work while also pursuing the validation of his father, go see Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman. It’s currently running at Chaminade University’s Loo Theatre through November 18, tickets can be found by searching for the show title and Chaminade at http://showtix4u.com/.