RALEIGH — You are there when the frogmen battle the mammoth squid. You are there when the entire sky catches on fire. You are there in a deadly rain of disintegrating icebergs. You are there when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” an adventure like no other in all the world of fact and fiction, only on First Friday, February 1 at 7pm.
While the Seaview, an “atom-powered submarine that defies description,” maneuvers under the North Pole, the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, redefining the term “global warming.” As the Earth broils in temperatures approaching 170 degrees F, Admiral Harriman Nelson hijacks the Seaview and plays tag with the world’s combined naval forces on a race to the South Pacific, where he plans to extinguish the interstellar fire with a well-placed nuclear missile. But first he has to fight a mutinous crew, an alarmingly effective saboteur, not one but two giant squid attacks, and a host of design flaws that nearly cripple the mission (note to Nelson: think backup generators).
“Voyage” features a cast as exciting as the wonders they encounter. Admiral Nelson is portrayed by Walter Pidgeon, who most notably starred in John Ford’s Oscar-winning “How Green Was My Valley” in 1941 and played the husband of Greer Garson’s character seven times on film. Joan Fontaine plays psycho analyst Dr. Susan Hiller, a significant step down from her Oscar-sniffing heyday of the early 1940s that included leading roles in “Rebecca” with Laurence Olivier and “Suspicion” alongside Cary Grant. And then of course there’s Peter Lorre as Comm. Lucius Emery — Lorre starred as “Asian” crime-fighter Mr. Moto in no fewer than eight films in the late 1930s and followed that up with key roles in “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca” in the early ‘40s.
Additionally, Barbara “I Dream of Jeannie” Eden plays Lt. Cathy Connors, Frankie “Beach Blanket Bingo” Avalon plays and sings as Lt. Danny Romano, and Michael “Klingon Commander Kang” Ansara nails it as Miguel Alvarez. The film was written and directed by Irwin Allen, who also made the mid-1960s television series of the same name, this time starring Richard Basehart as Adm. Nelson.
Calling all teens! How do we know that birds are modern-day dinosaurs? Come find out at our February Teen Science Café (6pm in the Daily Planet Café), when Museum research associate and NC State professor Dr. Daniel Ksepka reveals how scientists reconstruct evolutionary trees using the physical characteristics of organisms. You can also try your hand at assembling your own tree for a set of mysterious metal organisms.
The Museum and the new Nature Research Center stay open from 5 to 9pm on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, or enjoy food and beverages at the Daily Planet Café. “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” is now open and First Friday visitors can see it at a discounted rate ($3 off adult tickets). Additionally, the Museum Stores offer after-hours shopping and an opening reception for Anne Marshall Runyon, whose show “Natural Habitats: Works on Paper” runs through February 24 in the Nature Art Gallery. All exhibited art is for sale.