All Childish Things Review

A short time ago in a theater very, very near, Sinclair Community College premiered its production of the “Star Wars” themed play, “All Childish Things” to local audiences.

The show, written by Michigan native Joseph Zettelmaier and directed by Nelson Sheeley, is a reference-laden comedy that follows the antics of Dave Bullanski (Anthony Dell’Aria), an avid collector of “Star Wars” memorabilia who plans on pulling off the ultimate heist.

Dave is assisted in his quest by three of his friends: divorcee Max (Vincent Klosterman), wannabe rock star Carter (Joseph Herzog) and Carter’s straight-laced girlfriend, Kendra (Rachel Charles).

Their caper, which is basically “Ocean’s Eleven” for geeks, involves the gang attempting to steal millions of dollars in “Star Wars” collectibles from Carter’s employer — a Kenner warehouse — and selling it to a private collector (Chase Niemitalo).

The emphasis being on “attempting”.

I’ve been a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise for most of my life, and when I heard that Sinclair was doing this production at its Black Box Theatre, I was ecstatic. My expectations weren’t through the roof, but the show didn’t find my lack of faith disturbing.

Instead, Sinclair’s “All Childish Things” exceeded my expectations, boasting a talented cast and a sense of nostalgia that didn’t feel forced.

As far as casting is concerned, I felt that Herzog and Charles were the clear standouts in terms of main characters with a decent amount of onstage time. Herzog was inspiring when the script called for it and played his part well, but he also balanced the comedic and dramatic tones of the script with plenty of charm.

As for Charles, her first onstage moments paint her character in a repulsive light (which she portrays quite well). However, she comes to be an underdog in the production and shines bright in pivotal scenes.

I must also lend a fair amount of praise to Niemitalo as Big Man. Though he has a reduced number of lines compared to the rest of the cast, his introduction establishes the character as a force to be reckoned with. Niemitalo is shown to easily transition from a not exactly “phantom” menace to a hilarious goofball who can contrast the tension with pure charm.

This brings me to the script. The plot is somewhat predictable and though Dell’Aria, Herzog, Klosterman and the others gave their best attempt at providing the characters in “All Childish Things” with life, they aren’t exactly fleshed out.

Despite this, I was still invested enough to care about our heroes, even if the show’s resolution was quite cliched.

A great aspect about doing a comedy that mainly concerns an existing property (“A Very Potter Musical” comes to mind) is that the writer has a lot of material to mine references from.  

Sometimes, this nostalgia can feel forced and heavy-handed. An example of this is Ernest Cline’s follow-up to “Ready Player One,” the novel “Armada.”

However, that is not the case with “All Childish Things.”

Zettelmaier uses many of his references to suit the story and advance the plot instead of fitting them into cheap throwaway gags. He is able to balance his original story with original and prequel trilogy nods, which is much appreciated.

The same thing can be said about Kathleen Hotmer’s costume design, which calls back the first three “Star Wars” flicks while still remaining fresh.

I also really enjoyed the set and prop design, which were both done by Terry Stump. As the action of the play is confined to one location, what’s on stage cannot appear dull and uninspired. This has certainly been achieved, as the scenery is filled with various geek-inspired set pieces and props that would be realistic for a “Star Wars” superfan to own.

Even with its flaws, “All Childish Things” at Sinclair is a wonderful production that deserves to be seen by geeks throughout the galaxy.  If they don’t show up, it seems they’ve gone to Alderaan places.

Maxwell Patton

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