Lights flick on, the band begins to play, and the show already has the audience captivated. The show opens with a movie staging the moon landing, topped off with a planetary dance number and space–themed costumes. You can't help but crack a smile in these first five minutes, as the cast immediately whisks the audience into another, more absurdist, world.
Prior to the show, I spoke with cast director Brendan Taliaferro (C '19), who advised the audience to “be ready for a kind of weird and crazy show.” "A lot of pretty absurd stuff is going to happen…It’s a break–neck show," he added. At the time, I wasn’t sure entirely what level of foolishness to expect. But it didn’t take me long to figure it out.
True to expectations, the sketches had creativity to spare—each time the lights flicker on, you're immediately plopped into a new scene, filled with its own laughter–inducing hijinks. From depicting how an almond would be milked, to how to Venmo a robber, the cast makes every effort to keep the grin from leaving your face.
“Everyone puts in 120 percent, and leading this group has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my entire life," Brendan remarked. And this dedication was reflected through the remarkable level of energy the cast maintained. There were musical numbers that, between the band's uproarious numbers and the tap dancing, had the floor of the auditorium shaking.
The second act was just as fast–paced as the first, opening with Penn students and Amy Gutmann being abducted by aliens, the first explicit parody that skewered Penn culture. Between sketches imitating a not–so–productive elementary school UN conference and contemplating what new ideas the condom business might be cooking up, crude humor and irreverent political commentary took center stage in this act.
The band kept the whole show moving with fun interludes between sketches. And by the closing number, the auditorium was noticeably more light–hearted, bopping along to the likes of Mitski's "Geyser" and No Doubt's "Don't Speak."
While you may not find that all the humor in this show has you outright laughing, the variety of imaginative sketches will have you smiling through the entirety of the show. Eric Calvo (C '19), chairman of the Mask and Wig Club, noted that “since it’s entirely made by undergraduates, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the Penn community and I think that when people come see our show, it’s a good break from Penn, it’s a chance to laugh and a chance to have fun”.
If you're in need of some relaxation and a good laugh this weekend, I can say without reservations that you should get yourself a seat at "Apollo 13 going on 30."
Buy tickets here for $10–$12. The show runs from Wednesday, Oct. 10 to Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Iron Gate Theater.