Review: The Office Spaceballs (Queens Players)

Queen’s University alumni form the Queen’s Players Toronto Theatre Group. This year, the Queen’s Players present a cabaret-style show called The Office Spaceballs at the Tranzac Theatre. The show runs from June 16-18, and 23-25.

The theatre group’s president, Peter Higgins, warned me that the show would be like no other show I have been to. He said it was “part sketch-comedy, part rock-concert, part keg party.” I would say this description is pretty accurate.

Half an hour before the show began, audience members were already finishing up their second or third pitchers of beer provided by one of the night’s sponsors: the Steam Whistle Brewery.

I don’t hold my drinks very well and my drunken red face glow can be seen in even the most dimly lit rooms. Knowing that it is Queen’s Players tradition for both the audience and the cast to drink heavily throughout the night, I hoped my sobriety wouldn’t ruin all the cheeky fun.

The plot of this year’s play is about Mayor Rob Ford’s bad-guy plan to take over the universe. I didn’t pay too much attention to the plot because the good stuff was the jokes and the songs – and of course, the drinking!

Audience members can hand a cup of beer to any of the actors onstage and the play stops until the actor has finished chugging their drink. It is also tradition for the audience to yell out different things during the performance. For example, if someone onstage says the title of a song, the audience yells “Sing!” I also heard “Drink!” a lot.

Most of the actors are playing The Office or Spaceballs characters. Andrew Kelly, Ava Himmel and Matthew Payne are dead ringers for Jim, Angela and Dwight from The Office. I love the TV show, so I found all their impersonations hilarious.

The actor playing the Star Trek lady/Rob Ford’s medical advisor, Kristin Rodgerson, has a great voice. Her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” is awesome.

Songs covered by the cast include “Sexual Healing” (Marvin Gaye), “This Love” (Maroon 5), “I Feel Good” (James Brown) and “Raise Your Glass” (Pink). Andrew Kelly’s cover of the Weezer song “Say It Ain’t So” really got everyone going and was my favourite song of the night. The band was great and on their toes the whole night.

The jokes in the play are pretty funny. They poke fun at Hamilton’s bad air and Toronto’s political culture; they throw in quips from silly movies like Stepbrothers and Anchorman. My theatre pal Justin caught one of the references to Arrested Development (“Never nude!”).

As alcohol consumption increased throughout the night, things got a little sloppy but that made it even more fun. Everybody loves watching drunks do crazy things, right? Even though I stayed sober, I still had a lot of fun. The show is even better if you bring a group of friends along to drink and talk with.

Queen’s Players put on one production a year, so I’m glad I had the chance to attend. All proceeds go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

If you love to be silly, drink or sing along to songs, this is a great show to go to. The Office Spaceballs took me back to my university keg party days. The focus is not so much on the plot but more on the jokes, drinking and singing. It really is one big party for a great cause.

Queen’s Players Toronto presents The Office Spaceballs
– The production runs from June 16-18, 23-25 at the Tranzac Theatre in Toronto (292 Brunswick Ave).
– Doors open at 7:30 pm and shows begin at 8:30 pm.
– Tickets are $20 each available online. This year’s performances are sold out, but a limited number of tickets are usually available at the door for $25 each.
– You must be 19 or older to attend.

Photo credit: Tiffany Budhyanto