In the hands of Scott Martino, a plastic deli platter is transformed into an integral part of a robot costume, one that bears a striking resemblance to the robot featured in the ‘60s TV series “Lost in Space.”
That costume is one of hundreds of pieces the award-winning designer builds, alters, or sources from eBay, Goodwill, and everything in between for the Gold Dust Orphans’ newest holiday extravaganza, “Christmas on Uranus,” which runs Dec. 5-22, in the company’s new space, the Lithuanian Club at 368 Broadway in South Boston.
“There are at least 75 but possibly up to 100 costume pieces in this show,” says Martino. “We usually build at least 50 percent, but for this show, we’ve purchased more, but altered or embellished everything.”
Martino cofounded the Gold Dust Orphans with his husband, Ryan Landry, and has worked on sets, costumes, and props for every one of the company’s shows since its founding in 1995. Each show offers its own creative challenges and opportunities, he says. All the Orphans contribute to bring Landry’s cinematic vision to life.
“We love doing crazy stuff with unexpected materials [like the deli tray],” says Martino. “When you’re doing space age stuff, you get to be really inventive.”
For “Christmas on Uranus,” a mash-up of every sci-fi trope from “Flash Gordon” and “The Twilight Zone” to “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Gallactica,” creator Landry uses the outer space adventures of the Robinson family from “Lost in Space” as the story frame. Landry’s plot manages to have the Robinsons touch down on most of the planets in the galaxy as they search for the kidnapped Santa Claus and battle the crass commercialization of the holiday. With the velvety-voiced Tim Lawton returning as Santa (see “Nightmare on Elf Street” and “Murder on the Polar Express”) and the stunning Qya Marie playing Lieutenant Uhura from “Star Trek” plus a couple of villains, Landry once again takes on an entire genre to create a zany musical adventure.
“I’m trying to follow in [filmmaker] Mel Brooks’s footsteps in creating pieces that take on different genres,” Landry says during a rehearsal break. “You know, the horror genre for me was ‘Nightmare on Elf Street,’ western was ‘Brokelohomo,’ superhero was ‘The Ebonic Woman,’ and this is my space genre.”
In addition to taking on a new genre, the Orphans are adjusting to a new space — the third-floor auditorium in the Lithuanian Club — after staging their shows for two decades in the basement of Machine, a Boylston Street nightclub. The company moved out after the building that housed Machine was sold to a developer who plans to demolish it and replace it with luxury apartments.
“It’s great to have actual dressing rooms,” director Kiki Samko says. “But the biggest adjustment is the high ceilings. We have to be more aware of projecting our voices from the stage.”
The Lithuanian Club rental also comes with weekend parking availability, an elevator, and a bar. Martino says the new space has been a gift for him.
“I have a dedicated work space with windows that have natural light and an incredible view of the city skyline,” he says. “In Machine, I might spread my stuff out and work all afternoon, but I had to have everything cleaned up and put away before the club opened. Here, I am able to keep going until I’m finished or leave everything and pick up where I left off the next day.”
Martino says he was thrilled to find enormous inflatable AT-AT vehicles and a remote-controlled R2-D2 to add authenticity to his own creations.
“As a sci-fi nerd, it’s fun to pull all these pieces together, even on a budget,” he says.
“The funny thing is,” Landry says, “I was never into sci-fi. When I was a kid ‘Batman’ was on at the same time as ‘Star Trek,’ and I was always into ‘Batman.’ But when I started doing research before writing the script, I finally understood why Scott loves it so much.”
The fun of these productions, Landry says, is in having a crazy idea, committing to it, and making it work, with the help of jokes that make the audience groan.
“We’re just out to entertain,” he says, “but you know I love it when they groan.”
Inspired by a family crisis
“Burst,” a play about a Boston family coping with their matriarch’s life-threatening brain aneurysm, runs at Chelsea Theatre Works Dec. 6-14. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation and the Longwood Players have teamed up to present the play, which was written by North Attleborough’s Amy Leigh Horan and inspired by her family’s experience.
Set in the waiting room and in a neuro intensive care unit, the play, directed by Adrienne Boris, explores the fear and hope family members experienced during their mother’s long recovery.
The production tells a very personal story but offers an opportunity to educate people about brain aneurysms. During the run of the show, there will be two talkbacks presented by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
After the Dec. 7 performance, the playwright, her mother, and Dr. Adel Malek, chief of neurovascular surgery at Tufts Medical Center, will have a conversation about their medical experience. Following the Dec. 12 performance, Brain Aneurysm Foundation founder Dr. Christopher Ogilvy, director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Brain Aneurysm Institute, will participate in a post-show discussion with a patient. (Tickets: $27-$60, www.longwoodplayers.org.)
A one-man ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’
Actor Benjamin Evett tackles more than a dozen roles in a one-man version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Dec. 13-15 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge.
The solo show marks the debut of Queen Mab: A Micro-Theatre, dedicated to distilling Shakespeare’s plays and other great dramas to productions with no more than three actors. Evett will portray 14 characters in Shakespeare’s comedy of magic and mistaken identity. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is directed by Jess Ernst with live music composed and performed by Jay Mobley. (Tickets: $14-$28, www.queenmab.org.)
Terry Byrne can be reached at email@example.com.
CHRISTMAS ON URANUS
At the Lithuanian Club, 368 Broadway, South Boston, Dec. 5-22. Tickets: $49-$59, www.brownpapertickets.com