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Starship at StarKid Productions | Theater review

Team StarKid’s first postgrad production is a charming but overstuffed goof with too many sources.

 (Photograph: Chris Dzombak)
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Photograph: Chris Dzombak
StarKid Productions' Starship
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Brant Cox as Roach and Joey Richter as Bug in StarKid Productions's Starship
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Joey Richter as Bug
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Joey Richter as Bug
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Joey Richter and company in Starship
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Photograph: Chris Dzombak
Roach (Brant Cox) and Bug (Joey Richter) meet the Mosquito Brothers
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February (Denise Donovan) tells her story
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Bug (Joey Richter) rescues February (Denise Donovan)
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Roach (Brant Cox) points out Bug World's beauty
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Starship Rangers Taz (Lauren Lopez), Up (Joseph Walker) and Tootsie Noodles (Dylan Saunders) land on Bug World
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Bug (Joey Richter) makes a deal with Pincer (Dylan Saunders)
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Bug (Joey Richter) gets a human body
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Bug (Joey Richter) imagines a life beyond Bug World
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Roach (Brant Cox) meets the Overqueen
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Tootsie Noodles (Dylan Saunders) woos robot Mega-Girl (Meredith Stepien)
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Photograph: Chris Dzombak
Bug (Joey Richter) and February (Denise Donovan) investigate the crashed starship
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Photograph: Chris Dzombak
Junior (Brian Holden) makes his final play
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Chris Dzombak
Team Starkid's new musical, Starship, opens on February 11, 2011 in Chicago. Credit: Chris Dzombak/Starkid

StarKid, the University of Michigan–born group whose YouTube vids of its Harry Potter musical parodies garnered a huge Internet following and helped earn Potter star Criss a regular role on Glee, goes big for its postgrad Chicago debut. Like, August: Osage County big. Starship is a three-and-a-half-hour goof blending elements of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and the live-action cartoon Starship Troopers. The resulting overstuffed show has more than its fair share of infectious charm, but it’d work better as three separate, much shorter pieces.

Bug (the winning Joey Richter) is a bit of an outcast from his alien society of giant insects; unable to get with the hive mentality, he obsessively explores a human spaceship that crash-landed on his planet 18 years ago and dreams of being a Starship Ranger. When a new crew of Rangers encounters Bug World, Bug falls for a ditzy science officer (Denise Donovan, channeling Kristen Wiig); Bug makes a bargain with a nefarious rogue arachnid to be transferred into a human body so he can become part of their world.

Criss’s skimpy score is mostly unmemorable, but Starship features impressive production values (particularly in June Saito’s costumes and Russ Walko’s remarkably sophisticated puppets) and a number of appealing performances. Its biggest misstep is overstaying its welcome.

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