Los Angeles Times
April 23, 1987, Thursday, Home Edition
SECTION: Calendar; Part 6; Page 3; Column 1; Entertainment Desk
HEADLINE: KID BEAT: AN INTERGALACTIC EXTRAVAGANZA OPENS IN ANAHEIM
BYLINE: By LYNNE HEFFLEY
It's a gas. It's a multimillion-dollar, high-tech, computerized theatrical extravaganza.
"The Masters of the Universe Power Tour," a glitzy combo of sizzling special effects and non-stop action, opened Tuesday night at the Anaheim Convention Center, following much television and radio hoopla, and Mayor Bradley's proclamation of April 28 as "Masters of the Universe Day" in Los Angeles.
Featuring that Saturday morning television intergalactic duo He-Man and She-Ra, and a host of superheroes and bad guys, the lavish spectacle seemed to boggle the minds of the thousands of tots attending, judging from their loud cheers and eager applause.
Parents' minds also may have been boggled in the lobby, where $6 programs, $5 plastic "power-swords" and other merchandise rapidly flattened many wallets.
Mattel's $2-billion Masters of the Universe toy line has been transformed into a live galactic gold mine. Produced by PACE Management Corp., MTM Presentations Ltd. (a sister company of MTM Enterprises Inc.) and Ohio's Front Row Theatre, the show, currently on a 60-week national tour, is apparently making millions. For example, its 11-day engagement at New York's Radio City Music Hall in February grossed $1.2 million in ticket sales and $350,000 in sales of merchandise.
So, what do you get for your $9 or $10.50 ticket? If you're not stuck high up in a hard-to-see-from side section of the arena, as was this reviewer, where you sort of feel like an orphan outside a candy store, you get plenty: A prerecorded sound track, two huge video screens, ramps, platforms and an enormous stage, a Power Race on roller skates, fireworks, swordplay and a black-light Intergalactic Circus.
You also get characters like Man-at-Arms (Zack Hoffman), Beast Man (Jeff Biggs), Rokkon (Kevin Langston) and Skeletor (Eric Van Baars), their incredibly vivid costumes padded to heroically muscular proportions.
The appealing husband-and-wife team of Jack and Leslie Wadsworth portray He-Man and She-Ra. She's a gorgeous fantasy blond -- he's the one member of the cast who needs no padding.
The Masters of the Universe have transported themselves to Earth to share with its people the history and culture of their planet, Eternia. Songster (Doug Howard) serves as rock 'n' roll storyteller, narrating the action. Unfortunately, bad guys Skeletor and Beast Man, Evil-Lyn (Michelle Nevidomsky) and a contingent of Snake-Men have transported themselves as well, bent on destroying the good guys.
Flashing swordplay and acrobatics highlight the many well-choreographed fight scenes (Tony Christopher is director and choreographer). At one point, the forces of good and evil take to their Power Discs -- roller skates -- battling it out on a velodrome, roller derby-style.
Temporarily subdued, the bad guys retreat, leaving the stage clear for the Eternians to present their space circus, a parade of enormous Talliwallis, Jooglers, Zebrites and clownish Monkey Men.
In the finale, the mammoth stage bristles with swords, sparks and sound, as the evildoers make one last effort to prevail.
At nearly two hours, it's a long nighttime outting for preschoolers, but enthusiasm was not in short supply. The visual splendor of the set (designed by Tom McPhillips) and Waldo Angelo's superb costumes make this creation by Gary Goddard and Richard Hoag a memorable experience.
A 20-minute break during the show interrupts its continuity -- but gives the lobby vendors the opportunity to sell a lot of merchandise. Just before intermission, He-Man entreats the audience for its help in Eternia's struggle, urging children to raise their Power Swords and take the Eternia Oath of Allegiance.
Any guesses as to how many kids without Power Swords came back with them after intermission?
Parents, be warned.
Performances continue in Anaheim through Sunday, tonight and Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (714-634-1300). The show resumes April 28 through May 3 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Tickets: $9 to $10.50 (213) 410-1062.
GRAPHIC: Photo, View of the giant stage during the "Masters of the Universe Power Tour" show at the Anaheim Convention Center. MARK BOSTER / Los Angeles Times