Two new productions to talk about this week…
As different in content and style as they could possibly be… Ah, the diversity of theatre… You just never know what world you’ll experience vicariously when the lights go down. Some plays you will enjoy… others you won’t… but every single production represents the talent, visions, dedication and hard work of many people.
LOS ANGELES- A magical, mystical, highly unusual romantic fable, this one is tricky to summarize the plot for you. A poignantly surreal look at undying love, life, death, and fond memories, and offered in a playful “afterlife,” dreamlike-style, there is much to ponder here. Presented by Range View Productions, and beautifully written by Pulitzer Prize nominee, Sarah Ruhl, her trancelike version revisits the classic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Told from the heart and viewpoint of Eurydice, who died from a snake bite on her wedding day, she is transported to an eerie “underworld.” Once there, she reunites with her loving and deceased father, while encountering a host of other characters. (Fantastically creative set design by Amy Maier and costumes by Megan MacLean.) Trevor Bishop directs here with great vision and innovative choices… fully drawing us into the midst of the offbeat, mesmerizing and touching journey. About the dedicated cast: A serious musician, the lovelorn Orpheus vows to use his songwriting skills to gain entrance into the underworld and find his lost love. Erwin Tuazon gave a heartfelt, though slightly stilted performance, as the gallant Orpheus (maybe opening night jitters)? As Eurydice, torn from her true love by circumstances and into a strange and unknown world, the wide-eyed Dina Percia is a pure delight! Her exuberance and spirit throughout was infectious! Trevor H. Olsen as her father gives a solid and kindly performance, abundant with special moments. Playing two riotous roles as “Nasty Interesting Man” and “Lord Of The Underworld,” Clayton Shane Farris is a creepy standout! Loved him! I couldn’t take my eyes off of the final three characters… “Big Stone” (Leonard Zanders), “Little Stone” (Lauren Birriel) and “Loud Stone” (Raymond Lee), all who portrayed opinionated, sarcastic and hilarious “stones,” lurking in the shadows of the action… this amazingly agile trio absolutely “rock-ed”! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!) As I said earlier, this is a difficult theatrical experience to convey eloquently… but we enjoyed every enchanting moment! Will the star-crossed lovers find their way back to each other for all eternity? You’ll just have to go and find out for yourselves… (and I hope you do). If you act quickly, there is a “pay what you can” performance on Thursday, April 16th. Running through May 17th at The Hayworth Theatre – 2511 Wilshire Blvd. in downtown L.A. call 323-960-7726.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD- O’MIGOD… this one is so dark and twisted; I don’t know where to begin! An outrageous “goth-rock,” X-rated musical, comedically spewing mega doses of sex, murder, and deafening rock ‘n’ roll… my ears are still ringing as I try to wrap my head around its intention. Certainly not for everyone, its targeted audience is most likely limited to young goth rockers and thrill seekers with a penchant for the darker side of life. Written by Laura Lee Bahr and Kerr Seth Lordygan (also the two lead actors), with lyrics co-written by Bahr, Lordygan, and George “Drew” DeRieux, who also composed the thunderous and discordant goth music. This is a wildly bizarre and “campy” theatrical experience! DeRieux ambitiously and capably accompanies the cast “live” on guitar, but unfortunately at a decibel level cranked up so high that some of the casts’ song lyrics were undecipherable! A sound balance is sorely needed! (I have since learned that since the performance I saw, sound levels have been corrected!) While this play is not “my jigger of tequila” by any means, there are some very funny scenes and entertaining portrayals amidst the insanity, under the direction of Justin T. Bowler. It is the story of Helena, a clinically depressed young heterosexual woman, and her gay best friend/roommate, Garth. An ideal arrangement for both of them, sharing a goth-rocker lifestyle… until they discover that they are both sleeping with the same bisexual man, Joe (a cocky Kadyr Gutierrez). In explosive roles, both Bahr as Helena, and Lordygan as Garth, give cutting-edge, believable performances. As their best friends (and also playing the sporadic quirky narrators), Sandra Purpuro and Levi Packer are an energy-packed double whammy! Taylor Ashbrook is powerful as Garth’s neurotic mother, in total denial about her son’s sexuality. Actually, considering the genre of this play, the entire cast’s spot lit portrayals are worthy… It is mainly the storyline itself that escapes me. The rest of the loony cast includes: Allie Costa (Julie), Tony Pinizzotto (Greg), Kenlyn Kanouse (Ma Brody), Chris Vose (Pa Brody), and Hilary Prentice and Rebecca Lane (as the sexy Foucault twins). When a shockingly blood-curdling axe murder occurs at Christmastime, an unexpected “whodunit” aspect plays out. This is an undeniably unique musical play, folks, written, I feel, for a very specific theatre audience. Sorry… I just didn’t get it! If this dark premise piques your interest, “Gothmas” is running through May 17th at The Eclectic Company Theatre – 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood. Call 323-960-7712.
Pamela Clay Magathan
At Barones in Valley Glen. One night only (no cover). Saturday, April 18th, 8:30pm-12:30am. This sassy, sexy, and talented songstress can warble with the best of them! Accompanied by Davis Moscoe (on piano), and Bob Leatherbarrow (on drums), Pamela’s divest set covers the songs of divas, from Édith Piaf to Janis Joplin.
Whew! With our yearly taxes now calculated and sent off in the mail… we can once again deal with life’s many other little challenges and triumphs. A collective Hallelujah!