Scooter Wells, Boy Detective, and the Secret of Scull Cove

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So pretty much what’s happening is, some people who are vaguely implied to be extra-terrestrials are disguising themselves as Nazis, and then as regular people, in order to get hold of a crystal that a high school science club discovered which, unbeknownst to the science people, is capable of destroying the world, which of course is what the aliens want it for.

Oh, sorry. I was going to do a regular lead, but I figured a plot summary, in this case, would get your attention better. It’s the musical/parody/melodrama currently being performed at Desert Star Playhouse in Murray, and it’s called “Scooter Wells, Boy Detective, and the Secret of Scull Cove.”

This Desert Star production is less of a parody and more of a goofy little story about an all-American high school boy named Scooter (R. Russell Durrant), his all-American cheerleader girlfriend Penny (Ginger Christensen), their obligatory nerd friend Bunky (Christopher Joseph Rogers), their obligatory rich-snob rivals Sylvia and Preston (Kaycee Raquel and Paul Thomas Murphy), and the obligatory aliens-posing-as-Nazis (Norman E. Plate and Layna Carter).

This production is also a little more self-aware than it should be. The dialogue is full of terrible puns and cheesy jokes, which are what we gleefully expect at the Desert Star. But these are a little worse than usual, and most of them are punctuated with pianist Anne Puzey doing a little trill on the piano — as if to say, “Wasn’t that funny? Eh? Eh?” This wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach merely points out that the jokes aren’t that great, and reminds you that they actually expected you to laugh.

The play improves greatly in the second act, though, when the plot swings into full motion and the show quits reminding you that it’s supposed to be funny. There are some truly funny moments, centered mostly around the big, intentionally silly set pieces. Scooter and Bunky go underwater at one point; there’s a car chase with pieces of scenery being dragged across the stage with strings; and a boat chase with a similar approach. In these scenes, the show is every bit as cheesy as it was before. The difference is that now, it doesn’t beat you over the head with its cheesiness; it just lets you sit back and enjoy it.

Another highlight is Rogers’ scene as “Mr. Molecule,” Bunky’s Freudally repressed alter ego. His costume alone is hysterical, but his song and dance make things all the more bizarre. It’s the sort of inspired lunacy we see when the Desert Star is at its finest.

This show also contains what may be the last GOOD joke about Dennis Rodman before all Dennis Rodman jokes become passe.

The cast is talented and energetic — sometimes almost painfully so, when you realize they’ve just put all their emotion into the worst joke you’ve ever heard. But they keep the show moving at a fast clip, never letting up for a second.

“Scooter Wells” isn’t the best show Desert Star has produced. But as usual, it’s family-friendly, allows for audience participation, and is an amusing diversion for a couple hours or so.

Interesting that the first AND last words of this review are both "so." Well, maybe it's not that interesting, but it is unusual.

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