Caught up in the madly manic last week before Halloween at my store “Hubba Hubba!”

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I only had time to schedule one play for review on the weekend. The “wall to wall” costumes are flying out the door daily… which of course is a good thing… but my energy and patience level diminish by the day. I appropriately chose this macabre musical, loaded with quirky ghosts and eerie characters, in its world premiere. As my guests, I took along my loyal “costume helpers”: Dana, my daughter, and Kassidy, my granddaughter. Thanks ladies!

“Sally Spectre the Musical”-A Children’s Horror Story for Adults

Rebecca Lane in “Sally Spectre the Musical” at Theatre West.

Rebecca Lane in “Sally Spectre the Musical” at Theatre West.

Billed as “An irrelevant but charming musical about the ghost of a little girl who sings and dances her way through a nightmare-laced purgatory, with a little guidance from an unlikely host of sources…” This is a clever concept that could’ve/should’ve been more enjoyable and impressive than it was! Written, directed, co-produced and beautifully accompanied on piano by David P. Johnson (a longtime Theatre West member with impressive credits). Methinks the man took on too much… this one didn’t seem quite ready for this fine theatre’s audiences. Though there were certainly some worthy performances individually… as a whole, there were some issues. Noticeably overplayed by Rebecca Lane in the lead role, ‘Sally’ has been stuck in a room, dead for nearly fifty years, with an axe in her head and no memory of how she got there. Surrounded by other colorful, supportive and captive dead people… she must face the circumstances of her death by midnight or exist forever in this room. Though Lane’s chaotic performance wore thin for me early on, she was compellingly capable in her final scenes as the events of her demise became clear… and a free and happy “afterlife” became possible. In depictions and song performance: Matthew Hoffman was delightfully likeable as her animated friend, the toy soldier, and Rob Monroe was chillingly impressive as the towering wraith (a guardian of death). In smaller roles, Roger Cruz (Gustave), Kerry Melachouris (Mabel) and David P. Johnson (Archimedes) each had some shining moments. In a remarkably chameleon-like performance (…which made it all worthwhile for me), Adam Conger was brilliant! Playing four different zany characters (a hilarious clown, a bear, a cat and a King), he won the audiences’ heart! (He also designed the “trippy” set!) His song performance (with the company) singing “On the Moon” was a musical highlight, as well as the entire casts’ rousing closing number, “Putting a Bow on the Netherworld!” Technical kudos go to: Yancey Dunham (eerie lighting), Ellen Juhlin and David P. Johnson (sound), and Gillian and Rebecca Lane and Kathy Schoeppner for costumes. This is a strange one folks! A well-intended Halloween spooky story, with some interesting moments and concepts… yet somehow it often runs amuck! Sorry… I can’t love ‘em all!

Running through Nov. 29th at Theatre West (3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W) in L.A. (near Universal Studios). Call (323) 851-7977 for more information.

Mark Your Calendars for These Two Upcoming Plays

“Polyester the Musical”
Opening Nov. 6th at the Actors Forum in NoHo. In 1979, “The Synchronistics,” a singing group, were on top of the music scene with a number two song on the Billboard charts and an appearance on the Johnny Carson show. Then a terrible event occurred that drove them apart. Now, some 20 years later, they’ve re-formed the band to appear on a telethon. Co-written by Phil Olson (book) and Wayland Pickard (music), the two respected writers team up to share the penning of the lyrics. I expect to have a ball! I’m told this is a case of “Mama Mia” meets “Spinal Tap!”

“Molly”
Opening Nov. 13th at Burbank’s Victory Theatre Center. My press sheet reveals: “Set in London’s 1930’s, inspired by the sensational Alma Rattenbury murder case; this is the story of a love quadrangle, gone awry. Renowned writer Simon Gray’s plays are notable for their wit and emotional incisiveness. Sounds quite intriguing! Will tell you all about these two later…

Back to my “Halloween Cave” for a few more days! By next week’s column… it will all be behind me for the 25th year. Happy Halloween!

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