ZYGONS INVADE RED BANK!

Live actors, musicians and sound effects artists perform beneath the projected art of Tim Doyle as THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS makes its maiden voyage to Red Bank. (Click image below to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

It was almost 75 years ago that a young guy named Orson Welles drove thousands of New Jerseyans into Martian-fueled panic, courtesy of a radio play called War of the Worlds — using little more than a handful of actors, a busy-box of sound effects and a live mic.

Here in the jet-pack and moving-sidewalk world of 2012, we like to think we’re more sophisticated than that. But when the phenomenon known as The Intergalactic Nemesis touches down in New Jersey (at Red Bank’s own Count Basie Theatre) for the first time on January 28, it may represent the leading edge of an ongoing invasion.

Foley sound effects artist Buzz Moran accompanies a live performance of THE INTERGALACTIC NEMESIS, Book One of which invades the Count Basie on January 28. (Click to enlarge)

Described as a “live action graphic novel,” Nemesis is a theatrical experience that traces its alien DNA to Flash Gordon comic strips, Victorian “magic lantern” shows — and the lost art of the radio play, under which form the project took shape among a group of friends in Austin, Texas more than a dozen years ago.

As conceptualized by co-writer, producer and director Jason Neulander, Book One of the story (subtitled Target Earth) takes place in the pulp-magazine world of the 1930s, where an intrepid newspaper reporter — remember those? — by the name of Molly Sloan joins her assistant Timmy in a battle against the Zygon sludge monster invasion force. As detailed in the show, our heroes wage an epic but lonely fight that places them in encounters with an enigmatic hypnotist and a gallant, time-traveling librarian — bringing them from Earthly ports of call to the Robot Planet and Imperial Zygon itself.

Through constant workshopping and fine-tuning, the slambang sci-fi story expanded into a serial stage presentation. With the addition of a companion book featuring sequential art by Tim DoyleNemesis mutated into a crowd-pleasing production that boasts over 1,200 projected illustrations, an original score by acclaimed composer Graham Reynolds, TWO touring units of actors, musicians and Foley sound effects artists — and a couple of sequels waiting in the wings.

A native Jersey guy by way of Montvale, Neulander will NOT be making the trip to the Count’s court, but is scheduled to perform in New Orleans with a different Nemesis troupe at the same time as the Red Bank performance. Tom Chesek has a few Qs and As with the Intergalactic impresario, which you’ll find here on his blog, UpperWETside.

Tickets ($19.50 – $29.50) for the 8 pm performance of The Intergalactic Nemesis Book One: Target Earth can be purchased from the Basie box office right  — and keep watching the skies for updates on the impending arrival of Book Two: Robot Planet Rising.