I saw two productions on the weekend to tell you about. Although polar opposites in style and content, I enjoyed both plays.
Company – Directed with plenty of pizzazz by Albert Alarr
Stephen Sondheim’s concept musical, with book by George Furth, is a multi-award winning play that premiered on Broadway in 1970. This is a fun-loving look at the complexities of love, commitment, and bachelorhood, played out in musical vignettes, during present day this time around. We meet Bobby, a hot-blooded bachelor, who is lovin’ every moment of his single life. Juggling three gorgeous girlfriends … he is incapable of committing to a steady relationship. The always delightfully impressive Ben Rovner plays Bobby, our “career bachelor” … with loveable lunacy. As his trio of sizzling gals, Julia Black (Marta), Emma Degerstedt (April), and Katy O’Donnell (Kathy) give seductively sassy performances … and all can really sing! We are privy to the quirky dynamics of each of his married friends’ marital issues, and their undeniable affection for Bobby. Favorite scenes for me: 1. Bobby and his married friends, Jenny and David (Beatrice Crosbie and Jon Hand) share a “doobie” and the result is beyond hilarious! 2. In a bar, Bobby and betrothed duo Joanne and Larry (Sonja Alarr and Mike Hagiwara) get a bit “tipsy,” as unspoken truths unfold. 3. In a riotous case of “cold feet” on their wedding day, Amy and Paul (Amy Albert and Christopher Davis Carlisle) nearly call the whole thing off! The remainder of this spirited cast includes James Calvert, Zeffin Quinn Hollis, Libby Baker, and Lena Gwendolyn Hill. As always at Crown City, the production values are top notch! Kudos also to: Onstage Musical Director/Pianist William A. Reilly, Jack Forrestel for a stylish set design, Tanya Apuya for appealing costumes, John Todd, choreography, Anna Cecelia Martin, lighting, and Mark Duggar for sound. A collectively creative effort in setting the comedic tone. This show is a fun loving delight in all aspects. Do catch it … you’ll have a great time! Running through March 31 at Crown City Theatre located at 11031 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For seats call (818) 605-5685 or go to crowncitytheatre.com.
Von Bach – Written by Owen Hammer. Directed by Scott Rognlien
O’migod! This play is so whacky and “out there” that I’m in a quandary in trying to review it for you. Madcap zaniness runs rampant throughout! The audience repeatedly fell apart in maniacal laughter (as did I), but to give you a synopsis of the storyline is a challenge beyond belief! However, this is my job as a theatrical critic, so I will try…. This is an outrageously hilarious spoof on Hollywood filmmaking, with all of its deceptions, legalities, and power plays. Specifically here, dealing with the creepy genre of monster films … we meet the immortal Baron Heinrich Von Bach, a 19th century scientific genius. He reappears to reveal hidden truths, after decades of films based on his bloody life and “undeath.” When Minna McPheeter embarks on the task of offering a film about Von Bach from a more sympathetic viewpoint … all manners of complications unfold (played with zany exuberance by Maia Peters). As the towering scientist resurfaces, displeased with her project … all Hell breaks loose (an eerie and exceptional performance by JR Reed). The remainder of the nutty cast … all worthy of praise includes: Matt Taylor, David Wilcox, Summer Herrick Stevens, Lori Anne Edwards, and Jonathan Howard. As we riotously view past film clips of Von Bach’s life prior to Minna’s film project, the laughs are non-stop! Technically mood-setting efforts too, created by Kurtis Bedford (clever set design), Matt Richter (creepy sound), Kate Leahy (eerie lighting and projection design), and Sean O’Loughlin (original music). This is a highly inventive, very funny pop culture production, folks! A mind-bending, total “work out” of the senses … but you’ll likely lose 5 pounds from laughing! Running through March 10 at Fremont Centre Theatre located at 1000 Fremont in South Pasadena. For seats call (866) 811-4111. Free parking lot behind the theatre.
Back next week with more L.A. theater news. Ta ta for now!