Dolls Come to Life in Santa Monica

The cast of “Dolls.”

A beautifully conceived show, Dolls features fine acting and gorgeous design to tell the story of children’s toys come to life in search of love and fulfillment. Filled with original songs, the musical examines the secret lives of nine toys left behind as their owner grows up and away from them. They bare their souls and dreams as they wonder what will become of them.

Tunesmiths Evelyn Rudie and Matthew Wrather’s articulate, verbal songs employ Gilbert and Sullivan patters, gypsy passion and exuberant tempos to bring the show alive. A little more articulation would help reveal all the details of some of the more elaborate numbers.

Director Chris DeCarlo employs the intimate space well to keep the production moving, abetted by the actors’ dynamic performances. The cast brings an enthusiastic energy to the musical that prevents the show from becoming too stagy.

Timing is spot on by the fine cast, who work well together and possess excellent singing voices. Serena Dolinsky brings a sensitive, powerful punch to Marguerite. Rudie gives a nice touch of humor to the motherly yet baby French doll Babette. Annie Mackay makes Katy an appealing, charming soul.

Design work really enhances the show. Gorgeous, detailed costumes and perfect wigs by Ashley Hayes truly define the characters, adding color and flair. James Cooper’s lighting helps establish the mood, and the almost “trippy” like effects by Nima Ghassemian create an otherworldly quality. Sound work adds a nice touch as well.

Dolls runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. through September 25 in the Other Space at the Santa Monica Playhouse located at 1211 Fourth St. (between Wilshire Blvd. and Arizona) in Santa Monica. Tickets cost $26; $22.50 for seniors, students, teachers and military members. Special group discounts for eight or more are available. For reservations, please call (310) 394-9779, ext. 1, or visit www.santamonicaplayhouse.com.

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