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UFOs The Musical

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 08:25:58 -0400
Fwd Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 08:25:58 -0400
Subject: UFOs The Musical

Source: OregonLive.Com - Portland, Oregon, USA


Monday, April 16, 2007

UFOs The Musical

ART's new production introduces men in black, Bigfoot and
monster rabbits

by Grant Butler

When Jahnna Beecham was growing up, she was all too familiar
with things that go bump in the night.

"I lived in a farmhouse that was 150 years old, and it was
haunted," she says. "We saw things and heard things."

Such as the time she pulled down the covers of her bed and found
the sheets covered with hundreds of dead flies, like something
out of The Amityville Horror. Or the time birds flew
uncontrollably throughout the house. Or the time a bolted attic
door repeatedly opened itself, unleashing mysterious, foul odors
with no identifiable origin.

All that ghostly stuff was nothing compared with her very own
close encounter of the unexplained kind when she was 13.

"I had a friend spend the night and we were outside talking, and
then suddenly we saw this thing," she recalls. "It was just like
you imagine. It was this disc - this orb - and it had lights
that shined on the ground.

"We both looked at it and determined that we both had really
seen it. By the time I got my parents to come look, it zipped
off into the sky."

That otherworldly incident is one of the key inspirations for a
new musical comedy They Came From Way Out There, which opens
Friday at Artists Repertory Theatre's Second Stage for a five-
week run. Beecham, who is directing the production, co-wrote it
with Malcolm Hillgartner and Michael J. Hume, adapted from the
Erik Brogger's comic play "The Paranormal Review," which she saw
nearly three decades ago in Seattle.

"I never laughed as hard as I did that night," she says.

But so much has happened in the paranormal world since Review
debuted. In March, France released its classified documents
related to UFOs, chronicling 1,600 verifiable events over the
span of five decades. And last November, dozens of United
Airlines employees witnessed what they believe was an alien
spacecraft hovering over O'Hare International Airport in
Chicago, though officials at the airline and the Federal
Aviation Administration wouldn't take the reports seriously.

"People were mad: 'We're professionals! We saw this!'", Beecham

Just because Beecham believes the truth is out there and that it
involves the paranormal doesn't mean Way Out There is only for
true believers. She says co-playwright and husband, Hillgartner,
is as big a skeptic as Dana Scully from The X-Files when it
comes to talk of flying saucers and alien abductions. And the
show is so light-hearted, it should tickle both die-hards and

In addition to UFOs, the show's 17 vignettes tackle astral
projection, telekinesis, men in black, Bigfoot and monster
rabbits. They all come up during the course of an annual meeting
of the Paranormal Society, at which members must elect a new
president and keeper of the 'sacred thing', a bit of UFO
evidence that society members worship.

The society members in ART's production include Portland musical
theater regulars Susannah Mars, Bruce Blanchard and Kevin
Michael Moore, with Adam Goldthwaite and Jill Westerby rounding
out the cast. Their characters are loosely based on real people
Beecham and Hillgartner met when they attended a meeting of the
Disclosure Project, a group dedicated to getting government
agencies to reveal what they know about the paranormal. These
were serious folks, a number of them with briefcases full of

Way Out There, with its loony tunes and parody dance numbers,
takes the air out of that ultra-seriousness, but it doesn't
dismiss believers as kooks or crackpots, either. How could
Beecham, when she's seen a UFO herself?

"It's one of those things where once you've seen it," she says,
"you spend the rest of your life asking yourself if you've
really seen it."

Grant Butler: 503-221-8566;

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