In 2003, a Los Angeles-based theater troupe premiered a live version of the movie Point Break, appropriately entitled Point Break Live!, and it was good. So good, in fact, that it’s been running ever since, bouncing around Los Angeles, New York, and my home turf of San Francisco.
A few years ago they debuted Terminator Too: Judgment Play elsewhere, and after attending its San Francisco premiere on April 3, 2014 at the DNA Lounge, I’m here to tell you why you should go see either (or both!) of ’em if you can.
1. You – Yes, You – May Get to Be Arnie or Keanu!
Putting on a play is difficult enough. Putting on a play based on a movie can be that much more difficult. (I’m speaking from experience; my home theater in San Francisco, The Dark Room, has staged plays based on Star Wars, Batman, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Caddyshack, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and many others.) But putting on a play in which the lead actor is a different stranger chosen from the audience every night? That borders on impossible, and it’s also the killer app of Terminator Too and Point Break Live!.
Every show opens with an audition of volunteers from the audience. In the case of Terminator Too, the audition line was “Come with me if you want to live.” The winner is chosen by crowd reaction, not necessarily any sort of physical resemblance to the original actor. Case in point, the Arnold for the April 2014 show:
— Terminator Too (@TerminatorToo) April 4, 2014
And Mr. Mashikian did a fantastic job, nailing the big sunglasses moment…
…not long after taking a bottle of beer over the head with aplomb.
Speaking of liquids, you may have noticed that some of the people in the audition photo were wearing ponchos. That’s because…
2. You Will Get Wet.
Whether you’re Arnold or Keanu or just in the audience. Especially in the audience, and most everyone used the provided ponchos (except for my red-shirted companion KrOB there in the front row, who doesn’t share most humans’ aversion to getting wet).
It was a trend that started with Point Break Live!, which is based on an inherently moist movie. The surfers also used super-soakers on the audience during the robbery scenes, and most terrifyingly, occasionally squirted sunscreen in random directions. Not that I’m afraid of sunscreen – quite the contrary, I wear it every day, even when the sun isn’t shining – but something about it being delivered by shirtless bros at the March 2014 performance in San Francisco gave me the willies. Which made it all the more fun, of course.
Sources of water in Terminator Too include the super-soakers wielded by non-surfers throughout the show, including the Hunter-Killers in the beginning (which I regret not having gotten a decent picture of), and also squibs. So many little bladders full of red liquid.
It’s possible to enjoy the show while staying largely out of the path of the various fluids, but why would you want to? It’s all part of the fun. Get wet, dammit. And if you stick around long enough, you may even get to witness the Great Poncho Blob with your own eyes.
3. It’s Funny.
Really! There’s a lot on stage in both Terminator Too and Point Break Live! that ain’t on the page, but the old theatrical adage still holds true. Both of them start out with very funny scripts that would work even without all the extras bells and whistles, all performed by people who (except for the given evening’s lead) have plenty of comedy experience. But the bells and whistles are great, too, and much of the physical comedy stems from the…
So much action! Much of it takes place on solid ground, but if that’s not good enough for you, how about Sarah Connor (Christi Waldon) swinging from the rafters?
Or Bodhi and Johnny Utah skydiving in Point Break Live!?
Not all physical effects are possible at all venues; I was told after the show that the DNA Lounge is perfect for some of these gnarlier stunts. (SF FTW!) But they make the most of whatever venue they’re in.
5. You Get To Yell Your Favorite Lines.
While Terminator Too and Point Break Live are interactive shows, and the audience is encouraged to get good ‘n drunk, heckling is not okay, and active disruption of the show is not tolerated. That said, the audience gets plenty of opportunities to get involved, particularly for iconic lines.
When I was a teenager, a friend of mine was obsessed with Gary Busey’s “Utah! Gimme two!” line from Point Break. Until Point Break Live!, I’d had no idea that other people loved that line, too.
I was a bit more aware of the popularity of “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Now, you may have noticed the presence of a young lady (Melanie Minichino) dressed as a maid. This brings us to another reason you might like the show:
6. You’re Probably a Big Dumb Boy.
I’m in no way privy to the stats or demographics for Topless Robot, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the readership is comprised, to a certain extent, of heterosexual males. The producers make no bones about the fact that Ms. Minichino, the Stage Manager, is dressed like that for the aesthetic pleasure of that population. (The more thematic reason for her outfit is as a reference to the Latina maid with whom Schwarzenegger had an affair.)
Her actual function is quite possibly the most important one in the show: she provides the lines on waterproof cue cards for the lead actor, and in general keeps things moving along.
In Point Break Live!, the role of the Stage Manager is essayed by Christi Waldon, Terminator Too’s Sarah Connor.
7. It’s Fun Even If You Don’t Know the Movie.
There’s about a nil chance that the average Topless Robot reader hasn’t seen Terminator 2, but it’s surprising how many radars Point Break has slipped past. It helps if you’ve seen the movie in question, but it’s by no means necessary. (My pal KrOB has never seen Point Break, but had a blast at the show.) And if you’re sensitive about your favorite movies being made fun of, rest assured that the cast and crew of Terminator Too: Judgment Play and Point Break Live! have every bit as much affection for the material as you do. They wouldn’t be going to this kind of trouble if they didn’t.
The next San Francisco performance of Terminator Too: Judgment Play is on May 1, 2014 at the DNA Lounge, and both it and Point Break Live run regularly at the Dragonfly in Los Angeles. For tickets and other info, check out terminatortoo.com and pointbreaklive.com.
Previously by Sherilyn Connelly: