Monday night, January 11th, 2016, saw the team behind Sci-Fest LA continue to hold up their growing reputation for delivering bold and brilliant sci-fi stage productions in the Los Angeles area. This enjoyable and entertaining evening not only served as a fundraiser for the upcoming, annual Sci-Fest LA one-act play festival, but provided attendees with the chance to be included in on the presentation of the first-ever Sci-Fest LA Icon Award, witness a star-studded performance of the 1944 radio version of Frankenstein, and, potentially, even take a piece of iconic sci-fi history home with them!
For those unfamiliar with Sci-Fest LA, this unique and amazing event is an annual one-act play festival that celebrates all things science fiction and will be returning May 5th-29th, 2016. Co-founded by veteran Los Angeles theatre producers Michael Blaha and Lee Costello and actor David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal), Sci-Fest LA’s mission is to produce an annual festival of new, beautifully realized, and visually compelling sci-fi one-acts featuring many well-known actors from beloved sci-fi and fantasy franchises. (Be sure to check out FBC’s glowing reviews of the Sci-Fest LA’s previous festivals here and here!)
Monday night’s event, as mentioned previously, was one of the fundraising events used by Sci-Fest LA to help fund their main production of the year. Taking place at the beautiful Colony Theatre in Burbank, CA, the evening began with an intimate wine reception and silent auction featuring posters, books, and memorabilia signed especially for this event by genre icons Stan Lee (Marvel), Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Sandman), Don Mancini (creator of Chucky), and many more. The event itself was well attended by a diverse group of supporters and spectators, including sci-fi movie legends like Barbara Bain (Space: 1999), and Lee Meriwether (Star Trek, Batman), as well as a number of friends of Fanboy Comics, such as writer and playwright Joel Silberman (who wrote “Human History” which was part of last year’s Sci-Fest LA) and Harley Salbacka of Blastoff Comics. (Be sure to check out both Joel’s and Harley’s appearances on FBC’s flagship podcast, The Fanboy Scoop: Week in Review!)
The performance portion of the evening was opened by Sci-Fest LA co-founder David Dean Bottrell, who shared some moving words about his personal love of science-fiction, the passion behind the festival, and the growing success of this unique, annual event. This was promptly followed by a short, but impactful, tribute film in honor of Roger Corman (Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000) and the presentation of the first-ever Sci-Fest LA Icon Award to the legendary filmmaker.
Next up on the schedule was a reading by Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation) of William Hawkins’ touching and humorous short story, “Grandma’s Sex Robot,” which won the Roswell Award short story writing contest (hosted by Sci-Fest LA) last year. This was followed by the main event of the evening, a captivating performance of the chilling 1944 radio version of the sci-fi horror classic, Frankenstein. The impressive cast was led by former android and talented actor Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Independence Day) who portrayed the driven (and possibly demented) Doctor Frankenstein with a mixture of hubris and humanity that was perfect for a man who witnesses his own arrogance damn those around him. Playing perfectly off Spiner’s performance,Tim Russ’ (Star Trek: Voyager) monster struck the perfect balance of being powerfully horrifying and painfully tragic. The rest of the stellar cast, including Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Linda Park (Star Trek: Enterprise), Philip Anthony-Rodriguez (Grimm), Alan Polonsky (Aliens), and John Rabe (KPCC’s Off Ramp). The entire ensemble contributed to a solid and powerful performance that, once again, demonstrates the enduring capacity of Mary Shelley’s ominous warning to the world regarding individuals who seek to play God.
At the conclusion of the evening, Sci-Fest LA announced their 2016 line of science-fiction one acts selected for their upcoming festival in May. A full list of the selections is provided below:
A Midnight Clear
By Michael J. Himstedt
A divorced man’s attempt to share Christmas with his estranged son is thwarted by sinister, otherworldly forces.
By Spencer Green
Stranded for decades between dimensions, a desperately lonely astronaut suddenly has a surprise guest.
Certain Unexplainable Events
By Cody Daigle
Three troubled teenagers have very different accounts of the night their friend disappeared.
Love Life Alpha
By Nathan Wellman
A young couple find it tough to mend their damaged relationship under the constant, watchful eye of ‘Alpha.’
By Janis Ian
Adapted by Lisa Beth Kovetz
A futuristic tale of love, honor, and unwanted duty played out in a distant, war-torn galaxy. Based on the short story by the iconic singer-composer of ‘At Seventeen.’
By Chuck Armstrong & Charlie Stockman
A trio of quirky aliens fiercely interrogate a captive astronaut, determined to get answers to their questions about humanity.
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
By Neil Gaiman
Adapted by Michael Bernard
A naïve American student stumbles onto a creepy, uncharted seaside village that hides a terrifying secret. Literary legend Neil Gaiman’s chilling homage to the work of Lovecraft.
Winged Cupid, Painted Blind
By Rob Hollocks
The love between two married scientists is put to the ultimate test when they are trapped in a deadly race against time.
The Yattering and Jack
By Clive Barker
Adapted by Matt Murray
Despite his best demonic efforts, a ‘Yattering’ dispatched from Hell cannot seem to break the spirit of his designated victim. Based on the classic short story by one of Sci-Fi and Fantasy’s grandmasters.
By John P. Dowgin
A seemingly chance encounter between two strangers unleashes unexpected calamity.
In the end, the fundraiser was another successful and satisfying evening of sci-fi theatre from the team behind Sci-Fest LA. Every event this group tackles is a one-of-a-kind experience, and we here at Fanboy Comics urge you to seek out any and all productions Sci-Fest LA takes on in the future. Be sure to visit the official Sci-Fest LA website and don’t miss this year’s festival! (Tickets go on sale April 11th, 2016.)