SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLECreated by Will Eisner and S.M. Iger
Stage adaptation by Johnny Simons, from "Golden Age Sheena"
Music by Michael H. Price
Hip Pocket Theatre
Directed by Johnny Simons
Musical Direction by Michael H. Price
Direction and Design of Puppet Sequences by Lake Simons
Costume Design by Diane Simons
"Sheena" Costume Design by Kristen Walker
Lighting Design by Nikki DeShea Smith
Wardrobe Supervision by Mimi Kayl-Vaughan
Board Operations by Rachel Plankey and Richie Zinn
Sound and Projections by Jeffrey Stanfield
Sheena - Kristen Walker
Bob - Damek Salazar
Reviewed Performance: 8/19/2012
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is a fictional jungle girl heroine from the American comic book published originally by Fiction House. The female counterpart to Tarzan, Sheena had two things in common with Edgar Rice Burrough's Jungle Lord: Both possessed the ability to communicate with wild animals and both were orphans growing up and learning how to survive and live in the jungle. She was fiercely proficient in fighting with knives, spears, and bows, and improvised with makeshift weapons. Her primary ability was to surprise her opponents, either human or animal.
She was the first female comic book character with her own title, with her 1937 (in Great Britain, 1938 in the United States) premiere, preceding Wonder Woman #1 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). Sheena inspired a wealth of similar comic book jungle queens. She was predated in literature by Rima, the Jungle Girl, introduced in the 1904 William Henry Hudson novel Green Mansions. Sheena was ranked 59th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
For over 36 years, Hip Pocket Theatre has been presenting unique works of live theatre with over 229 productions, 145 being World Premieres, over their long history. They have a reputation for eclectic, thought provoking works, with hilarious comedies thrown in each season. Sheena is one of those funny, side-splitting one-act performances that simply entertain and make you laugh.
Hip Pocket is truly unique. Being a 'theatre under the stars' venue offers the patrons an experience you can never get in a standard production space. The entire property is a collection of art and a bit of excited madness. From the outside 'lobby' with live musicians prior to show start, to the comfortable outdoor amphitheater with multi-level decks and staging, you are engulfed in a complete Arts experience everyone should take the opportunity to see.
Direction by Johnny Simons is well done and executed with the skill of a seasoned director, of which he is.
Wonderful stage presentations, movement and action support every scene and keep you involved. Every scene is presented with purpose, even with such a comedic story line, and never strays from Mr. Simon's desired journey. I am especially impressed with his 'commercials' between each Sheena scene. It's creative magic when he takes a print ad from the comic book series and plays it out live on stage. Those brief interludes bring a whole new meaning to some of those old-time product promotions. You'll never look at a printed advertisement, even today's, the same!
A simple fixed set piece center stage, designed as a carnival-like barker booth, holds the wonderful Music Director and Accompanist Michael H. Price. He plays live throughout the production with exciting and comedic underscoring for each scene. Dressed as a safari guide, his music gives wonderful substance to the scenes and thoroughly entertains you during every moment of the production.
Nikki DeShea Smith's lighting design is colorful eye candy in this production. Wonderful use of saturated primary colors with simple patterns and gobos accent every scene perfectly. It is not often a lighting designer can use such rich colors but Ms. DeShea Smith's 'comic book' style design does. Pulling colors right from the comic book pages themselves, which are projected on a large screen on the stage, her designs take you right into those pages and never detract from the action on stage.
Costume design by Diane Simons is exciting and entertaining. The designs are sometimes over-the-top, as they should be, and always unique. Every performer is costumed well and identifies each comic book character perfectly. Be prepared for some very exciting and rip roaring surprises from some of these designs when they appear' you'll definitely never forget them. Sheena's costuming by the performer playing the role, Kristen Walker, is perfect and shall we say, VERY true to the character. You'll never look at animal prints again in the same way!
There are some exciting puppet sequences designed by Lake Simons that are just wonderful to see. Ms. Simons regularly does well-executed puppetry at Hip Pocket and in this production she shines again. They add exciting elements to the show and are visually perfect when implemented into the story you're seeing on stage.
Kristen Walker as Sheena is perfect in the title role. Her facial expressions, over exaggerated movements and slapstick comedic timing are right on track. Ms. Walker takes you on Sheena's journey with style and perfection in every scene. She is simply a pleasure to watch on stage.
Bob, Sheena's 'companion' played by Damek Salazar adds a wonderful dimension to the show. He plays off of Sheena with a wonderfully timed comedic style and never overpowers his character role. Mr. Salazar is onstage almost the entire time and never once does he falter in his talent and presentation.
The supporting ensemble cast plays a myriad of characters throughout the show and each one is executed with style and pure theatrical entertainment. They play everything from wild animals to jungle tribal leaders throughout the show and you are taken in by each and every performer's presentation of their respective character. Each of the ensemble actors have great moments throughout the show, but a standout is Scottie Corley with his extreme over-the-top comedy, facial expressions and spot-on timing. Mr. Corley will bring tears to your eyes from laughing so hard!
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is a thoroughly entertaining evening of live theatre. Definitely take the opportunity to see it and enjoy the full artistic experience of Hip Pocket Theatre's current production and its uniquely wonderful environment!
Hip Pocket Theatre
1950 Silver Creek Road, Fort Worth, TX 76108
Playing through September 2nd, 2012
Friday through Sunday: gates open at 7:00 pm. Food is available and musicians will be playing on the Backyard Music stage. The show begins at 9:00 pm.
Tickets range from $5.00-$15.00
This show is rated PG-13, no young children please.
For info. or order tix online: www.hippocket.org or call the Box office at (817) 246-9775.