Remembering the Alamo doesn’t necessarily cue “musical.” But I suppose the brain of Magik Theatre Executive Director Richard Rosen is wired a bit different than most. Rosen has managed to pull off the difficult task of staging and writing the original musical the Phantom of the Alamo for the past four summers, and each year he adds an element of surprise for Phantom followers.
Phantom begins on March 3, 1836, when, according to legend, Colonel Travis drew his line in the sand at the Mission. History holds that Moses Rose was the only person not to cross into hero-dom. His cowardly persona is portrayed by Dave Morgan as a fumbling guy that runs into a wall, trips into the river, and is next seen 172 years later as the pudgy Phantom. He now calls an undiscovered cave under Alamo Land his home — yes, Alamo Land. Apparently in the 100-plus years since Moses and his (allegedly) disfigured face escaped into oblivion, the Alamo has been left under the care of a sheisty, John Waters-mustachioed director. The Alamo has since been made into an amusement-park tourist attraction with a virtual battle dubbed the “Alamo Wii.”
The duration of the play is a string of song and dance numbers paying homage to Oklahoma! and Fiddler on the Roof. Towards the end of the performance, in an attempt to wrap up loose ends quickly, a fast-paced musical tribute to The Sound of Music, Evita, A Little Night Music, and My Fair Lady is covered; this leaves the actors a bit out of breath but they endured, mildly perspiring, with smiles on their faces.
The cast is made up of stellar Magik Theatre company players, stand-outs including Dylan Collins, who plays Raul. In the first few scenes he epitomizes the meek and loser-like qualities of his character, a raspa-cart pushing Alamo Land mainstay. He channels past superheroes and morphs into Raspa Boy, but unlike his superhero counterparts, he has no special qualities, except the ability to cool down the hottest tourist that come to his stand. Apollo Bradley is also excellent as the Curandero — he puts a Jamaican spin on the play’s narration and provides a nice transition from the opening scene to present-day commercialized Alamo City. And Morgan gleefully pokes fun of his large frame at various times throughout the performance — most notably while on a river barge with Chrissy, an erstwhile tour guide and Angel-seeker.
One thing I wasn’t diggin’ were the Brady Bunch characters who are meant to be clueless (and incredibly nosy) tourists. I didn’t understand the importance of having Mike, Carol, and Jan visit the Alamo City. Was Mike attending an architect convention and decided to bring his least-loved child along, or what? But I did enjoy Mollie Wicall’s performance as Jan — the resemblance was uncanny.
As a first-time Magik Theatre patron I was impressed by the set design (the low-tech Alamo Wii had the audience in a riot), costumes (Raspa Boy’s rainbow tights and red-sequin-trimmed cape was an appropriate choice for a quirky mock-superhero), and plot line, which appealed to both young and old. The zany characters are loved by children, while the underlying warning about commercializing the Alamo tugs at the heartstrings of locals and lovers of our favorite SA mission. •
Phantom of the Alamo
Through July 25
420 S. Alamo