by Frank Fetters, former Lansing resident and current Lansing Journal reader
I just learned from my co-producer, Moses Hazan, that the first showcase performance of our comic sci-fi/thriller/musical, Alien Buffet, will be held on March 18, 2022, at the historic Nevada Room here in Las Vegas. In addition to attending an actual buffet, audience members will be treated to the showcase performance of Alien Buffet. A showcase performance is the Las Vegas equivalent of a Broadway out-of-town tryout. Typically, showcases are set up to entice potential backers by presenting the first twenty minutes of the play for a select group of audience members who may want to financially back the production. If all goes well, the production will be picked up by a local venue.
The show is about aliens who create a machine to remove fat and calories from tasty foods, allowing Earthlings to eat what they please while getting slimmer and healthier than ever. The kicker, though, is that the extraterrestrials plan to ship the lean carcasses of Earthlings off to their home planet Nebular, where the Earthlings will become snacks and dinners for the starving Nebularians. But in the process of doing all this, one of the Nebulatrians falls in love with an Earth girl. A classic love story!
Of all the things I have attempted in my 80 years on this planet, this experience has been the most amazing and consequential. I met Moses Hazan while dining in a local restaurant near my home, where Moses played piano. Part of his act was to play audience requests, so I got into the habit of coming there with a typed request sheet that contained dozens of tunes, the style of which would usually range all the way from Gershwin to Stevie Wonder and back, and Moses would work these titles from my request sheet into his performance, along with all the other written requests he’d receive on any given night. On one such night Hazan asked me what I do for a living. I could have told him I was retired. Or that I had been a teacher, a cop, a security lieutenant, a technical instructor for the nuclear industry, and a whole host of other things. But that night I said, “I’m a playwright.” Which is also true. And he said, “We should put together a show sometime.”
Alien Buffet is our second collaboration. My first “signal from the universe” that this would be an amazing project was when Moses contacted Jon D. Fondy, a TV professional whose father was Dee Fondy, who played first base for the Chicago Cubs. I was a huge Chicago Cub fan growing up in the 1940s and 50s, so this struck me as an omen.
The next signal I got was when I started writing lyrics and sending these to Moses so he could add music. We worked together even better than we had on the Marilyn Monroe show.
A third signal was when Moses met Sophia, a seasoned Broadway professional who started her stage career at the age of four, playing in a Broadway production of Annie that starred Carol Burnett. She has had a very long career after that, and she’d been cast recently on Broadway as Evita Peron in the musical, Evita, but COVID has kept her out of work for one and a half years! I don’t even know her last name, but when I met her, she talked and looked exactly like the person I had envisioned when I wrote her part! Plus (get this!), she is named after her aunt, whose name you may recognize: Sophia Loren.
We added two more cast members because they had been in our production of Marilyn Uncovered. J.D. Smith played a psychiatrist, and Luke Striffler played the part of Joe DiMaggio. In this new production, J.D. would appear as an alien masquerading as an Earth scientist while inventing this food machine that would make Earthlings skinny. Luke Striffler’s new role would be as Johnny “Red” Sparks, an employee of a special bureau created by NASA to track alien activity while working his “day job” as a police detective.
Soon afterwards, Moses hired a woman whose first name is Madalyn as Esmeralda’s sister, Zelda. I have spent most of my life as a “contender” who never achieved much success, so when all these coincidences came together, I decided to work full speed ahead in taking this opportunity to get my work produced again.
Just wanted to keep my hometown informed. Thanks for your interest!
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