Now and Then – ‘Step Right Back’

| Entertainment | August 9, 2018

Last Sunday afternoon, during the Canyon Theatre Guild’s production of “Gilligan’s Island: The Musical,” director Ingrid Boydston told the audience members that she has been a fan of the musical version of the iconic 60s television series since she first saw the show 20 years ago.

Echoing her remarks in the show’s printed program, Ingrid admitted, “It was goofy and farfetched – okay, it was ridiculous – but it was so much fun – and brings back so many childhood memories”

And for those who are also fans of the bumbling first mate and his often exasperated skipper, this light-hearted romp down memory lane, which runs weekends until August 25, provides a good way to escape the summer doldrums that have the SCV in a sweltering grip.

Director Ingrid Boydston enthusiastically welcomed the audience to the CTG theater Sunday afternoon.

From the familiar opening song (what faithful fan didn’t find himself singing along with the actors on stage?) to the outlandish plot devices, cast members Josh Aran (Skipper), Garrett Carpenter (Gilligan), George Cummings (Mr. Howell), Greg Hayes (the Professor), Jill Kocalis Scott (Ginger), Anna Rast (Mrs. Howell) and Kaitlyn Ruben (Mary Ann) added many of the original casts’ mannerisms to their portrayals. And, oh yes, since the production parodies some of the outlandish scenarios of the original show – Adam Kort injected a bizarre twist playing “the Alien.”


George Cummings mimicked the patrician cadence of super rich millionaire Thurston Howell III (in today’s world he would have to be billionaire) as he counted his hundred dollar bills, “improvised” a corny stand-up routine in between scenes, and added dry, upper class comments to the plot line. When the curtain was drawn (seconds after the opening shipwreck song) to reveal sturdy bamboo huts fashioned by his fellow castaways, Howell (Cummings) remarked; “Amazing how fast things can be built without a permit!”

There was also a between-the-scenes song done by the Skipper (Aran) that started out as a reprise of the show’s theme song (“Sit right back and I’ll tell a tale …”), but morphed into “… a tale as old as time,” plugging “Beauty and the Beast,” another CTG production which has been playing weekends at COC’s Performing Arts Theatre (it closes this Sunday).

Two standout musical numbers highlighted the play’s opening scenes. In the first, the female castaways, softly harmonizing to a graceful hula in “Island Lullaby,” were joined by the males, who stomped and chanted “Tahitian style,” in grass skirts.

In the second, “Hieroglyphics,” the Professor and the Skipper teach Gilligan how to spell using a catchy tune and some fancy footwork.

Underlying the pratfalls and mugging reminiscent of the television show, “Gilligan’s Island: The Musical,” highlights a theme resonating in today’s world, “how can different people from vastly different backgrounds not only harmonize in song, but in behavior as well?”

In the case of this particular show, director Boydston concludes: “Gilligan sums up the question in his own simple way, ‘All the people on the boat come from different places, but they’re all very nice,’” and, Ingrid adds, “we’ve found that to be true – when we are nice to each other in spite of our differences, we not only get along, we have a ball!”

One final note: kudos to set designers John Alexopoulos and Douglas Holiday. The two artists have turned the CTG stage into an island fantasy, from the tropical landscapes on the curtain and backdrop, to a life size “Tiki carving,” to the detailed bamboo hut facades, and, finally, the stacked hammocks serving as beds for Gilligan and the Skipper.

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About Linda Pedersen

Linda Pedersen is a 50-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley. She has alternated being a columnist and feature writer with volunteering in the community.

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