Wild Women of Planet Wongo Not Too Fancy Productions


Previews June 1, 2, 7 @8pm.  Regular run Thu-Sat 8pm.. Enter a world of Amazonian warrior women and their alluring Queen who first meet men when two bumbling astronauts crash onto their purple and green planet.

Landing in Chicago after a long NY orbit, this immersive musical sci-fi spoof propels the audience into the middle of a madcap 60s B movie experience. No seats needed in this galaxy, not with frosty green Wongotini cocktails, gravity-free dancing, retro game shows, hot prizes and close-up encounters of the WONGO kind.


Tickets $15 (Previews only).  $40/$20 (under age 30).  More info: info@PlanetWongo.com

06/07/18 - 07/14/18

Previews June 1, 2, 7@ 8pm. Run Thu-Sat 8pm

Wild Women of Planet Wongo lacks the verve of a true camp classic: The immersive theater experience never achieves liftoff. Marissa Oberlander - Chicago Reader. "Not Too Fancy Productions brings this musical comedy to Chicago after previous runs in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Written by Ben Budick, Steve Mackes, and Dave Ogrin, Wild Women of Planet Wongo takes up two spaces in the Chopin basement: a bar/lounge area where Wongotinis are served and game shows are played and a standing-room-only space where the plot plays out.

After a crash, astronauts Ric and Louie find themselves marooned on all-female Planet Wongo, known for its population of warrior wonder women. The men think they're in for some sexual gratification after years of space loneliness, but the women are secretly plotting to barbecue them at the next Wongo Woo-au. A variety of escape antics ensue, culminating in the discovery of a nearly fatal typo in Wongo's holy book.

While the script is an appropriate send-up of B movies past, this production falls short. The frequent shifting of attention between performance spaces and downtime for bathroom breaks and drinks don't allow the performance energy to build; they actually foster the opposite of the intended "immersive" experience. Additionally, the direction and cast performances lack the vitality necessary to create the world of Wongo and ensure the jokes get laughs. The actors' voices are capable and their improvised asides clever, but punchlines feel thrown away, without the campiness necessary for a truly successful parody. The same goes for the movement and dance numbers, which could be much bigger with even more audience interaction. After all, people need a warm-up if they're expected to participate in the postshow dance party".

Wild Women of Planet Wongo - Regina Victor, Windy City Times 6/20/18.  - " The Wild Women of Planet Wongo is an immersive experience, best enjoyed with a group of enthusiastic friends and a couple of Wongotinis ( vodka, tequila, midori and lime juice ). If you get a little tipsy and accept that this is kind of a crazy Jetsons-meets-Rocky-Horror musical extravaganza right down to its antiquated gender norms, you'll have fun.

Wild Women comes from a successful run at Brooklyn's Fireproof and Parkside Lounge. Composer Dave Ogrin has hired an all-Chicago cast and crew for the run here.

You'll be standing for the performance ( although if you want to sit, they'll accommodate you ) in the Chopin Theatre's basement, where the lobby is blacklit and filled with fun science toys and tiny astronaut and army figurines. Directly in front of you is a bar serving the aforementioned Wongotinis. If you drink and are not driving, go ahead and partake. The best moments of this show come when you're loose enough to put yourself in the midst of the action. This is not hard to do as the play moves through and around the crowd, with stage hands and cast members shuffling us around the area.

Upon arriving, you may be asked if you want to participate in a game show. I figured I was here for the experience and decided to take part. This slipped my mind as the play got underway, the audience following the goofy and dramatic male astronauts who broke into song and dance after crashing on Planet Wongo. There are varying vocal talents among the cast for sure, but standouts include Freya Falkenstein ( Croquette ), and Michael Hayden Sprenger ( Ric ).

At first, the Wild Women seem to live up to their sex-crazed reputation. Eventually, you'll realize their motives are not what they seem. What these wild women really want? Man-slaves. During one of the breaks they called my name as a Wongette-in-training and invited me to come up and learn how to beat a man-slave. He was clearly out of it, and the Gameshow Wongette ( Sissy Anne Quaranta ) said that was not her preference because consent is what gets her going. Cool of them to say, but it made me feel a little weird, since he never awakened.

The game-show bit is fun. I won a man-slave ( a very nice and enthusiastic audience member who even joined a dance number at one point ). Audience engagement really makes this show. That said, I had issues with the messaging: Wild Women's Book of Wongo suggests consummating with rather than consuming your mate, and that men might be equal to women.

Still, the performers are working working their Wongas off to give you a good time. I'd recommend going at the start of a night out with a big group of friends"

Wild Women' invade Chicago in immersive new stage musical comedy - Chicago Sun Times 6/7/18 - The far-out new production "Wild Women of Planet Wongo" is not of the traditional theater world. In this kitschy, retro-inspired musical comedy, opening June 8 at the Chopin Theater in Wicker Park, there are no seats and there is no stage, allowing audience members an incredibly immersive experience that makes them one

"Personally I'm a huge fan of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' ‘Little Shop of Horrors' and ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000,' and that certainly provided a lot of inspiration for this show," says producer and co-writer Dave Ogrin, a New York-based creative who cut his teeth in the music business as a sound and mixing engineer for hip-hop elite like the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash before turning to musicals as a career venture as the recording industry began to change.

Ogrin makes his debut in Chicago with "Wongo," which is not unlike a B-52's music-video-meets-Escape-Room. Based on ‘60s sci-fi B movies, the plot focuses on a planet inhabited by warrior Amazonian women and their fierce queen who have never encountered men until two oafish astronauts invade Wongo - convinced they have found their own version of paradise. "Except the women of Wongo have plans for the men they didn't anticipate," Ogrin chides. "By the end, the takeaway is that people have more in common than their differences. Though we kind of spoof the ‘60s gender stereotypes, the idea is showing that Planet Wongo evolves just like we have as a society, too."

The three-act play has two intermissions filled with games, dancing and prizes - even more if you come dressed incharacter, donning Planet Wongo's green and purple colors. Chopin's bar will also have a signature "Wongotini" cocktail throughout the run that wraps on July 14.

The current iteration of "Wild Women of Planet Wongo" is a far cry from its original state, which took a traditional musical format. Ogrin and his team - including fellow writers Ben Budick and Steve Mackes and director David Rigano, who had the chance to hone their skills at the esteemed Eugene O'Neill Theater Center - originally formulated the idea several years ago for a black box theater festival at the University of Michigan. From there it moved to New York City, where it was performed at the Ensemble Studio Theater and eventually premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival before finding a home at the Red Bar Theater in Key West, Florida.

"Wongo" sat dormant for a while before Ogrin had the idea to entirely reconceive it after taking a chance encounter at the ever clever "Sleep No More" in New York, a zany promenade theater-style production that allows guests to travel through different theatrical rooms for various acts that waver from the hypnotic to the disturbed.

"After seeing that production, I thought this could be Wongo," says Ogrin. With the same team in place, they rewrote it and made it more interactive, with Ogrin opting to produce the show himself for the first time. It received rave reviews for its run at the Parkside Lounge in New York City, which was originally supposed to take place over a three-month term but expanded to 10 months due to demand.

"We definitely have had a lot of repeat people, and started growing our little fan base," Ogrin admits, getting closer to his "Rocky Horror" dream. The show even has its own take on the "Time Warp" song and dance. Ogrin says the show is for everyone (audience members as young as 16 are welcome to attend, with the exception of the Saturday 10:30 p.m. show, which is strictly 21-and-over).

"We get a lot of younger people for the sort of party atmosphere. But then there are also a lot of older sci-fi geeks that remember the ‘60s and the decade's music."

For the Chicago production, Ogrin opted to use an entirely local cast and crew - even down to the wig makers. Actors include Jen Connor (Queen Rita), most recently seen in the role of Adele Dazeem in the Chicago premiere of "Wicked Frozen," as well as The Goodman and Chicago Dramatists alum Sabrina Harms (Annette), among others.

"I didn't know for a fact that Chicago would have the people that I needed like I had in New York, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Chicago really has amazing people here that helped me put together this show," says Ogrin. "We couldn't ask for better people."




Ben Budick, Steve Mackes and Dave Ogrin

David Rigano

Jen Connor (Queen Rita), Freya Falkenstein (Croquette), Sabrina Harms (Annette), Takesha Meshe Kizart (Barbette), James Mann (Louie), Sissy Ann Quaranta (Game Show Host), Michael Hayden Sprenger (Ric) and Katherine Wettermann (Georgette)

Set design - Alec Long; Light design - Michael Rathbun; Asst. Light design - Jake Engram; Sound/Vide Design - Robert Hornbostel; Music Director – Kyra Leigh; Associate Choreographer – Chelsea Ward; Animations - Rudy Agresta; Costume Construction – Kate Setzer Kamphausen; Wig construction - Keith Ryan; Make-up design - Sydney Genco; Stage Manager – Daniel Parsons; Asst. State Manager – Molly Weaver; Technical Director – Nic Belanger and Production Manager – Greg Kolack

Tags: Theater, American, 2018