When Megan Farve of White Bear Lake signed up for auditions for Chameleon Theatre Company's current show, the instructions were not to come with a memorized monologue or scene but to arrive simply knowing a lot about your favorite film.
So she studied up on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The audition was a bit of a blur -- director Phil Gonzales asked her to discuss the plot, act out scenes, improvise, and throw in characters from other well-known films. "He was mixing all these characters," she said. "You didn't even have time to think. You just had to be on your toes."
She scored a role in "Completely Hollywood," which opens Friday at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. The fast-paced romp through almost 200 films includes goofy mashups and a flurry of costume changes, from "business suits to prairie dresses to Batman capes," Gonzales said.
"In the middle of a 'Wizard of Oz' sequence," he said, "suddenly Yoda pops up."
"It's not a subtle work," said Gonzales, who tends to direct comedies. "It's very fast paced, very one-liner-y, a lot of corny jokes."
One of the first plays Gonzales directed with Chameleon was "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged," written by members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, the same authors of this current condensation of 100 years of Hollywood history.
For this play, instead of sword fights, there are light sabers, giant birds and car chases.
"In a way, it's a little bit of a homecoming," he said. "It has the same rhythm, the same style. The shows that are written by these guys are pretty frenetic."
Marlo Miller of Burnsville called it "campy, but fanboy-ish." Miller is one of four women cast in the play -- along with Farve, Holly Brimhall and Gina Hamilton -- which was originally written to be performed by three men. They did "some surgery on it," she said, switching around the parts and adding references to contemporary films.
During the first act, characters debate the best movie lines of all time and how movies are structured. In the second, they try to create their own movie, which becomes "a montage of everything you've loved or hated in a movie," said Farve, who plays the character writing a screenplay that is "The Wizard of Oz" set in the future as a Western.
"The plot is pretty thin," Gonzales admitted.
The plot isn't the point, really. The audience should come prepared for silliness, a ton of references to the silver screen, and a gleefully haphazard attempt to adapt films to the stage. "It's really hard to pull off 'The Matrix' onstage," said Hamilton, of Hastings, referring to the "bullet time" special effects that the 1999 film popularized.
And to see perhaps more costume changes than any other play. "I've been afraid to add them up, actually," Miller said of hers. "There are times when we walk off stage and have two lines to change."
"It's definitely a whirlwind of costumes, props and acting," said Hamilton. "We're coming and going, zipping on and off the stage. It's messy, and it's all over the place, and it's super fun."
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.