Buntport's Jessica Robblee looks back at 100 episodes of tRUNks: A Live Comic Book and forward to the finale
What are some of your favorite moments from over the years?
We definitely have some characters that are favorites of ours. One of my favorites, Captain Superlative, was in charge of the villain rehab center that we ran in one episode, which I really loved. He was trying to rehabilitate three villains, one of which was Grouchy Caveman, one of which was the Mild Thang, who wants to make everything mild and boring, and one of whom was called the Dessert Baron, and he bore a striking resemblance to Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. But in general, that one was really fun because villains are really fun to write. We get teased that our villains aren't that vicious, but sometimes they're really nefarious in kind of a subtle way. You know, it's really pretty scary to think of a villain who could make everything boring and beige. And then some villains will just want to take away your independence of thought, which is definitely a horrible thing to do. Like, the mind control helmet in our Wrinkle in Time episode. I loved our Midsummer Night's Dream episode.
We have a really bizarre character--he is my boyfriend in the show--he's Scott Parrot and he's a giant, very colorful parrot. We were made to fall in love by a superhero in the first season and we've stayed together this whole time. He's a giant parrot psychiatrist from Scotland. And something like 47 different people have played this parrot over the years. And right now John Moore is compiling an autobiography of Scott, written by all of those people. So it's pretty fun. It's funny, because he wrote to people asking for a sentence each, but these people have written paragraphs on behalf of Scott Parrot and these are people who've come into our show in numerous capacities, who are guest stars in different ways. They haven't just played the parrot, they've played other things, they've brought their kids so many times. We have kids guest star sometimes, we have kids be our guest narrator sometimes. It's definitely about inclusiveness and having people from the community engaged. And I think it's why the series has really thrived and we hope to keep a lot of those elements at play with our next series as well.
Why is this the final season of tRUNks?
We just decided that we wanted to change format, and we thought, well, this is our 100th episode that we're gonna have and then we're gonna do a grand finale trilogy after that in the new year, and then after that we just wanted to kind of say, okay, new piece of paper. We have drawn on this piece of paper in so many different ways over the years, with so many different people and plot lines and all of that, and while in the midst of tRUNks we've expanded our educational theater for young audiences program. We've built all these shows to travel the schools, and those shows, we've learned so much doing them. We've just been able to put more time in, more repetition, fine tune the visual effects involved in the show or the aesthetics of each show. Not only has the variety been great, but also we get to do a little more craftsmanship because it's not quite so fast. And so we thought, what if we do a monthly show, a new series. And that's what we're going to start up in April. Right now it's called Second Saturdays, we like to approach it as something monthly, something new, something to look forward to. It's still an all ages production, intended to be funny for everybody. And it'll be happening twice on those days.
Are you sad to see tRUNks go?
I am. You know, it's a bittersweet thing. I love it, I love it so. And I think there's no hard and fast rule that we will never bring those characters back in some form or other. You know, Arrested Development got cancelled but there's still the movie out there, you know what I mean? Sometimes we have these lofty dreams of, what if we did a play that we could invest in more technically that has to do with our favorite comic book superhero characters that are beloved to us? It's more just you want to stretch your muscles artistically. I've played this character for this number of years. Definitely, we've all played different characters inside the series but it's just a nice thing to think, okay, what other colors can I paint with? What other format can I try out? So it's exciting. It's a little daunting. It feels like a big change because we've been on this schedule--this is our eighth year doing it. We're excited and all the ideas for the next thing are broiling about.
What else do you want people to know?
I guess I'm really excited about how our show is really unique. I don't know that programming like this is happening elsewhere. I ended up writing my thesis on it for school and my professor said, "You know, people aren't doing this other places in the country. You really need to write about this and publish it, because it's a great format for galvanizing a community that loves your series that is invested in the characters." And I think at the hundredth episode to be able to feel that amongst the audience, to be able to feel that people have been with these characters for that long. There's some history, not just between the characters, but between the audience and the characters and it's a beautiful thing to be around. It just shows that storytelling and live performance and people all being in the same room has something to offer that is unique. There is something qualitatively different than movies, there's a different amount of connection. The actor responds to the audience. The audience knows they're being responded to. The kids know me as my character name. They know me as Trixie; they call me Trixie. We've had so many opportunities to do different things with our show with 100 episodes. You can be very serious, you can have heart in one episode and be ridiculous in the next. You can have inside jokes with your audience, yet you can also jump in at the 100th episode and still have a great time.
The 100th episode of tRUNks runs at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. Saturday, December 16, with live music by Elin Palmer. Tickets are $5 to $7 at the door, with a $1 discount if you come dressed as a superhero. For reservations, which are recommended, visit www.buntport.com/reservations or call 720-946-1388. The grand finale trilogy will run early next year on January 12, January 26 and February 9.