The rumblings of liftoff, the terse news updates of Walter Cronkite, the tense suits and ties staring into flickering computer screens. Apollo 13: Mission Control is a production that plunges its audience straight into the drama of the infamously failed 1970 moon mission.
The program re-enacts what it was like to be among the handlers of the only one of seven moon missions aborted due to life-threatening equipment malfunctions. The audience members are in the console seats and become part of the play, each picking up an assigned task — communications, surgeon, flight activities. It’s up to them to help solve the conundrum of how to bring the crew home alive.
And, oh, it’s a raucous ride, full of humor and banter and flashing lights. The skit is run primarily by three cast members representing the managers of the sprawling computer banks of Mission Control, immortalized in just about every depiction of space flight. When the lights dim, they resemble an angry Liam Neeson, a cowering Tobey Maguire and an exasperated but noble guy playing Ken Mattingly, a grounded astronaut.
The cast sets the mood with a black-and-white reel showing how to duck and cover in the event of a nuclear attack. And the banks of old-fashioned looking lights and switches — along with the occasional appearances of journalist Cronkite — set the vibe. It’s a 90-minute program, but passes by quickly and with anticipation; unless you hate astronauts and space, in which case, The Inlander can’t help you.
Apollo 13 Mission Control • Thu-Fri, Jan. 17-18 at 7pm; Sat, Jan. 19 at 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm; Sun, Jan. 20 at 2 pm • $52.50 for console seats • $37.50 for press gallery • Spokane Convention • 334 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard • Spokanemissioncontrol.com • 800-325-SEAT