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Local News / Entertainment

Monday, 22 February, 2010 5:33 PM

Joel Hodgson provides glimpse into Cinematic Titanic's upcoming stop

Photo credit: Joshua Targownik

Cast members on the Cinematic Titanic

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

ROYAL OAK, Mich. -- This upcoming Saturday, February 20, serves as a milestone birthday for the creator of one of the most popular television shows of the last twenty years. A day before celebrating it with shows in his birth state of Wisconsin, however, he will be further east for a night of riffing in Royal Oak, Michigan.

This Friday, Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Joel Hodgson accompanies the movie riffing troupe Cinematic Titanic into the Royal Oak Music Theatre for two consecutive shows. Each show, the first starting 7:00 p.m and the last at 11:00 p.m., will screen a lesser known feature film while the ensemble quips away on its content.

First up on the night’s schedule will be the 1960s Japanese sci-fi flick War of the Insects, a “beautiful [and] in color” feature (as described by Joel) centered around a drug-addicted bomber pilot who encounters an island swarmed with the titular creatures.

The following show will feature the cast riffing on and perhaps ripping into Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World. Though the flow of the title made it sound as though Smokey Robinson made some kind of contribution to the original movie, Joel reassured that it was just another sword-and-sandal installment, similar to those that frequented one season of his MST3K tenure.

The plot this time, Joel explained, centered on the Maciste-based “Samson” journeying to China and thwarting the intentions of villainous Mongols.
This pair of films, like the content of Cinematic Titanic tours in the past, comprises of limited title selections for most of a season. Joel mentioned, aside from adding a third film yet to be determined, “All the movies we’re working on will be the same until the end of spring.”

Cinematic Titanic, which features additional MST3K alumni such as Trace Beaulieu (the voice of Crow T. Robot) and “TV’s” Frank Conniff, takes up a format similar to what made MST3K famous in terms of theatre riffing.

The difference with this group, Joel stated, is that performing live events required a greater length of scripted planning that leaves less room for adlibbing and spontaneous comment than what was commonplace in the original show.

“We know that people want to believe it is mostly improvisation,” he said, before adding that each cast member is provided with close to 120 lines and thus is hard pressed on time to pull jokes out of the air. There would be times, Joel mentioned, where the cast members would pull quick in-jokes on each during live proceedings, yet remain limited out of concern that they would fly right over the audience’s heads.

Because of the proximity of the shows’ date to Joel’s 50th birthday (the same day that Cinematic Titanic will perform a pair of shows in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), it seemed as though the choice of Royal Oak had some background resonance with the group.

However, when asked about its scheduling in relation to the Milwaukee date, Joel revealed that “It was kind of an accident. I didn’t design that at all.” Still, Joel did confirm that he had at least spent a brief part of history in Royal Oak during the height of his stand-up career in the 1980s.
He mentioned that the last time he was in the area during that period, it was performing a gig at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, and that his clearest memory about the club turned to be the kindness and support of its owner.

According to the listed tour dates on Cinematic Titanic’s website, the group will take a nearly two-month break before performing a string of shows along the East Coast in mid-April. The highlight of this stretch for Joel, mentioned so far on the website, is an April 17 appearance at the Nokia Theatre in New York City.

In regards to the shows this Friday night, Joel Hodgson was unsure of what he felt the attendance would be, but he did pass along information that would delight anyone unable to make the event: that efforts are being made to get both riffed films onto DVD.

Tickets are $35 per show or $50 for the double feature. Click here to order tickets for one or both of the shows. Doors open at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. All ages are welcome and both shows are reserved seating. The Royal Oak Music Theatre is located at 318 W. Fourth St. between Washington Ave. and Lafayette Ave. in Royal Oak, Mich.

 

Photo Credit: www.cinematictitanic.com

 

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