Walk into a dark, air-conditioned room; melt into an overstuffed chair; listen to soothing music. All the ingredients are present for a relaxing snooze.
But at Hansen Planetarium, that's out of the question. Suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a fast-moving, intergalactic adventure - trying frantically to reach the moon before your claim-jumping arch rival SpendThrift GoldRob poaches all of its gold.Last year, Hansen Planetarium's production "Zap" electrified the audiences. This year, "Moon Rush" is a blast. Geared to entertain as well as educate, the play is a fascinating mixture of a comedy with live actors, a laser show, a science demonstration . . . and a magic show - if one doesn't understand the scientific principles involved.
The play's characters include Master Sgt. Maxine HollerSlugg who runs the ALL-E North War Surplus Factory Outlet; Freedom Woodstock, a punker child of hippie-gone-yuppie parents; and Raker SlowBeGone GurNobil, the extraterrestrial prospector determined to beat GoldRob to the gold.
As the three actors try to find the right formula for rocket fuel, they experiment with a number of scientific principles: making hydrogen and oxygen from water; combining them in a rocket engine to create energy; providing altitude stability by using gyroscopes; experimenting with liquid oxygen; cooling nitrogen gas to -325 degrees Fahrenheit to produce liquid nitrogen; shattering a racquetball by cooling it in a bath of liquid nitrogen then hitting it; deflating a balloon by pouring liquid nitrogen over it, and then watching it expand as it returns it normal temperature.
The actors who starred in the first performance of "Moon Rush" last Thursday were Thomas Paven as Raker, J.D. Sullivan as HollerSlugg, and Jennifer O'Haley as the punker child. All delivered energetic, humorous performances. Not only did they have to act, but they had to gather all of the paraphernalia and perform the experiments. All of this was done without any unrehearsed explosions.
Such a production calls for more than talented actors. It requires the creative efforts of a number of people. Reuben Fox and Joanne Parker collaborated on the script. Parker, who is artistic director of City Rep, also directed and produced this show.
Mark Palmer, the Planetarium's science demonstration conceptualizer and developer, dreamed up the special effects and demonstrations. For the show, he even invented a gyro-chair to demonstrate gyroscopic principles.
Nathan Gardner of the Planetarium's production department made sure that Mark's devices were constructed properly.
Hansen Planetarium's summer production of "Moon Rush" continues through Sept. 5 at 15 S. State. It can be seen on weekdays and Saturdays at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. And each Sunday there is a matinee at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children or seniors, and special half-price discounts for children at the 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. shows Monday through Thursday.
The schedule might change, so it might be best to call 535-2098 for show times. Also, to avoid disappointment at the ticket window, order tickets in advance.
Several actors will take turns playing the parts. Sharing the role of Raker SlowBeGone GurNobil: Thomas Pavey, Roland Held and Nels Holmgren; of Master Sgt. Maxine (Buzz) HollerSlugg: J.D. Sullivan, Jayceen Craven and Diane Smith; of Freedom (Gnarly) Woodstock: Jennifer O'Haley, John Holmgren, Daniel Prestwich and Russ Wasden.
And members of the audience are also invited to become active participants in this hilarious production.
Everyone who attends a performance of "Moon Rush" will undoubtedly be excited about this new production - except, maybe, science and physics teachers. They're going to be jealous of the how the Planetarium's production staff teaches scientific principles so effectively, yet in such an entertaining way.