Sometimes the Desert Star Playhouse, with its melodramatic musical parodies, goes overboard on the eye-rolling groaner jokes and you wind up with a show that is amusing and cute, but not exactly high-quality comedy.
But “Ghostbusters in Black: They Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance,” despite the characteristically stupid subtitle, is the exception to that. It’s a cleverly constructed, well-acted, wonderful piece of satirical Halloweenery, full of outrageous sight-gags, subtle inside jokes and manic energy from every single cast member.
The plot is an almost-brilliant amalgamation of the “Ghostbusters” and “Men in Black” storylines, combining elements of both into one coherent plot. It seems an ancient devil-type named Druul (yes, there are many drool/spittle jokes), at the behest of his dark overlord Logie, has found a new body to inhabit — that of nerdy Jerry Lewis-ish museum curator Stanley Bonkers (Matthew Mullaney).
All that remains now is to find a body for the evil high priestess, Becky. To that end, the apartment of newspaper reporter Fanny Berrett (Chelsi Stahr) becomes possessed by spirits, and she herself soon becomes possessed by Becky.
So it’s up to the Ghostbusters in Black — A1 (Ben Millet, also the show’s writer), 401K (Scott Holman, also director), 3D (Steven Fehr) and new-comer I-15 (Stefanie Omer) — to save the day. 401K takes the Bill Murray part from “Ghostbusters,” romancing Fanny and cracking wise. It’s a part Holman plays well, as he has always had a subtle, snide way about him in the DSP’s shows, and he can toss of a one-liner without looking out at the audience to make sure they caught the joke.
Gayle Hayes Castleton is fantastic as Dr. Polly P. Pratt, Bonkers’s fellow museum nerd and secret admirer. She is completely committed to her role, and sings a wonderful rendition of “My Guy” (“No other Ph.D is as provocative to me as my guy”).
Pretty much everyone’s funny in this show, from Mullaney’s wacked-out, Druul-inhabited Bonkers to Stahr’s all-out lunacy as Fanny and Becky.
The post-show Olio, “And the Beat Goes on,” is better than usual, too, with songs and jokes for Baby Boomers and others who remember the ’60s. Stahr and Fehr do a hysterical Sonny and Cher impersonation, and four of the guys do an impressive Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan sequence.
The only major drawback is that there is more background “mood” music than usual, from musical director/pianist Brooks Holm, and without much in the way of a sound system, it’s sometimes hard to hear the actors.
So that just means get a table as close to the front as you can. Then sit back and laugh at a smart, silly comedy that knows how to deliver the goods.
As usual, we enjoyed the Olio far more than we were supposed to. For some reason, we tend to find just about everything funny in the Olios, even things that probably aren't meant that way. We're probably just giddy on pizza and root beer.
I actually came back and saw this a second time, on a double date. That's how much I liked it. (You think I'm joking when I say I like stuff? I'm not.)