In 2014, Juniata Presents brought you the amazing showing of The Intergalactic Nemesis: Book One: Target Earth, which introduced the story of an intergalactic nemesis whose mission was to conquer 1993’s Earth. As mentioned on their website, TheIntergalacticNemesis.com, the only way to help save the Earth from complete destruction was through the help of determined characters; Timmy Mendez, an aspiring journalist, Molly Sloan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Ben Wilcott, a librarian from Flagstaff, Arizona, who claims to have the answers for all the strange happenings.
The Intergalactic Nemesis was originally a science-fiction radio series that would be performed on the radio through various installments. The idea was that the writers would be able to supply two 15-minute scripts per week for five weeks. This evolved into a stage show written and directed by Jason Neulander. Due to its various medium combinations, such as comic books, stage performance and audio play it is categorized as a live-action graphic novel. The Intergalactic Nemesis has had the honor to be featured on NPR, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal plus many other media platforms.
There was no question whether Juniata Presents was going to welcome them once again. On January 28, 2017, the sequel, Robot Planet Rising, would bring us even more joy, excitement and adventure as we pick up where we left off with Target Earth.
Constructed from a PBS Digital Studios web series, audio dramas, audio podcasts, graphic novels and an astounding theatrical production, which we call a Live Action Graphic Novel, The Intergalactic Nemesis is a show that is worth watching. Simply calling this amazing performance an audio drama wouldn’t give it the ultimate justice that it deserves. As you see the actors deliver their witty lines, behind them lies beautiful and intricate comic art strips inside a projection screen, then shifting your eyes to a table full of bits and bots creating sound effects through macaroni pasta and bells that give you the all around real-life experience thanks to the talented Foley artist Buzz Moran. Moran was able to use everyday objects and produce incredible sounds to enhance audio quality and give the story a more life-like feel.
A comic novel filled with so many characters was then condensed to the three amazing voices of Rachel Dendey, Brock England and Christopher Lee Gibson. They bring different characters to life and you truly see the magic right before your eyes. From high pitch voices identifying the evil characters to the fast paced voices portraying the robots, the actors did a magnificent job of maintaining the diverse voices throughout the performance. With a little bit of imagination these three actors helped the audience see and hear various characters.
If the characters weren’t enough of an amazing performance, the sound effects and piano in the background helped just as much to bring the story to life. Through the amazing work of Moran, we saw him bolt from one side of the table to the next, pushing buttons to create an alien-like sound or shaking a box of nails into the microphone to create the crash of a ship. The live music played on the piano by the talented Collin Shook, helps tie the show together by keeping the audience intrigued through the uplifting moments as well as the suspenseful ones.
The plot to the sequel is set in Robonovia, the Robot Planet. We have now left off when commander El-Bee-Dee-Oh has gone lost into space and it’s up to Molly Sloan and Timmy Mendez to find him. With the surprising visit from Molly’s former fiancé and his assistant Natasha Zorokov, Molly and Timmy uncover a conspiracy that can ultimately terrorize the very existence that is Robonovia, but also life on Earth. Molly and Timmy embark on an adventurous journey along with some of their friends to find a way to help stop the evil and save the world once again.
The audience was invited to cheer, boo and hiss as the performance went along creating a fun environment and element of participation to the show. Right from the beginning the audience began to cheer for the victories of Molly Sloan and Timmy Mendez and then began to boo towards the end for the evil robot who calls himself Alphatron. It was later when you would hear “aww’s” and a handful of “eww’s” from both children, parents, and college students throughout the theatre for the love confession of Molly Sloan and Ben Wilcott.
The show was a family-friendly event welcoming everyone from children to adults with imaginative minds. Caleb Norville, a senior at Juniata College states, “I saw Target Earth and I wanted to see the sequel. It’s really different- I’ve always like science fiction so it’s a different way to present it. The actors are great, the sound effects are great, and the story is interesting.”
This is definitely a must-see performance filled with humor, amazing actors and extraordinary sound effects that transported you to the land of Robotnovia. Exciting, funny and creative, “Robot Planet Rising: An Intergalactic Live-Action Novel” is an out of this world experience that is simply unforgettable.
—Gaby Atayde '17, Digital Media Writer Intern