Expect quirky characters, madcap adventures, and a lot of science fiction fun at the LowellArts Youth Theatre production of “The Last Kid in the Universe.”
Being performed April 14 and 15 at the Lowell Performing Arts Center, this show is written and directed by long-time LowellArts director Brent Alles. Originally written as a one-act play, Alles felt there was more of this story that he wanted to tell.
Heavily influenced by the book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Star Wars, and the science fiction comedy genre from the 1980s, Alles decided to embrace his “lifelong obsession” with science fiction and flesh out his story and characters into a full two-act play.
Set in the present day, the main protagonist is a 13-year-old girl named Jenny who attends an after-school program rife with bullies. There, she meets an odd but kind friend named Duncan, who just happens to be an outer space alien. Fortunately for Jenny, Duncan is able to transport them both to a spaceship as the Earth is being destroyed.
Then their adventures begin.
Alles says the story is a comedy, but it does have a deeper message. As the main character is only 13-years-old and the sole survivor of all of humanity, he says it brought up questions about what a kid’s perspective would be in that situation.
“It can be kind of serious, but we also take it to a cartoonish level,” Alles says. “There are parts in the play that deal with how we can better take care of our planet. Can we do better, and can we be better people on this planet?”
Alles says while serious, questions like these are heavily ladened with lots of comedy. “So there’s heady stuff, but there’s also dancing aliens and killer teddy bears,” he explains.
Running an hour and 45 minutes long with a 15-minute intermission, the play has 27 cast members of adults and children.
Alles graduated from Byron High School east of Lansing where he participated in theater. He studied English education and humanities and is an adjunct professor teaching mostly business classes. He has directed 13 productions for LowellArts, much of it working with children’s theater.
Alles says teaching and directing kids in the theater is very rewarding. He says children can acquire confidence and poise from being on the stage.
“You help them gain confidence and presentation skills and help them feel comfortable with themselves,” he shares. “That’s a powerful thing. The comradery that they build with each other and the discipline of learning lines and applying yourself to a part are all great things that happen when kids do shows.”
“The Last Kid in the Universe” is performing April 14 at 7 pm, and April 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. More details and ticket information can be found on the LowellArts website.