I caught two light n’ lively, very funny productions last week

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By now my personal “laugh-meter” is off the charts! I hope I can inspire many of you to see both of them!

sugar happens: a one-girl show

Rutledge

Rachel Bailit in “sugar happens.”

A wild n’ wacky world premiere written by Emmy Award-winner Sherry Coben, this is a loveably spicy little romp! Based on the life of a “nice Jewish girl” from Needham, Massachusetts, who moves to “tinsel town” hoping to find love and superstardom… there are a lot of laughs and plenty of heart in this solo play. Under the cleverly creative direction of Phil Ramuno and produced by the iconic David Lee Strasberg… the perky Rachel Bailit is a dynamic delight! Talking directly to the audience, she takes us on a personal and very funny trip through the events in her life… from Needham to Hollywood. Raised in a typical Jewish family, and in fond recollections of her brother who died at the age of ten, she reveals many riotous and heart touching family stories. An eye poppingly chesty girl, she tells us her kid brother once took her to his class, as his “show and tell” project. In a screamingly funny “bit,” she coaches us on how to treat and deal with “big boobs,” while tastefully managing costume and wig changes onstage. With “hip” background music and an eclectically colorful set (both uncredited), effective lighting by Maarten Cornelis, and the technical work of Maksim Bugrov, this is a tight little production! Later, in a 20 year “imagined” fast forward, we witness three possible “life outcomes” for the gal who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. My favorite character, two decades later, views her as a boozing, bold n’ bawdy, gravel voiced lounge singer. Not usually a fan of solo performed plays, I must say, this one held my interest and kept me in laughs all the way through! A well written, directed, and performed laugh riot, at just over an hour… why not see it and catch dinner at one of Toluca Lake’s “fab” eateries… before or after Rachel’s Romp! Running Wednesdays at 8 and Sundays at 7 through June 20th at the intimate Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr. in Burbank. For seats call 800-838-3006.

U.S.S. Pinafore

Ben Rovner

The crew of the USS Pinafore contemplate the cosmos in Crown City Theatre’s rollicking space musical based on Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.

An outer space operetta, adapted from the works of Gilbert & Sullivan… on this voyage, we’re on a “Star Trek”-like spaceship, instead of the original ocean liner. (Very “cool” and complex set by Tony Potter.) Brilliantly adapted by Jon Mullich, who also directs the farce with hilariously “laser sharp” vision, and musically directed with zany flair by William A. Reilly, this is a spectacular production! I smiled so much.. my cheeks hurt! Having to see it during “previews,” because I was booked solid for their opening weekend, I promised to forgive any technical glitches. Quite honestly, I couldn’t spot a single kink that still needed ironing out. This fearlessly innovative troupe has been cranking out great work for many years… each unique production different in style and impact from the last one. Kudos!

The story and songs here are great fun, the costumes by Caitlin Erin O’Hare are a joy to behold, the choreography by Stephanie Pease is looney and lively, and the lighting by Sarah Templeton is madly mood setting. A large cast of excellent singers/actors take us on a wacky galactic voyage to outer space, where unlikely romances explode among decidedly “class divided” people. “The heart knows what the heart wants!” Ashley Cuellar is totally captivating as Josephine, the Captain’s beautiful daughter, hopelessly in love with Ralph, a crew repairman. Aidan Park is heartwrenching as the lovesick Ralph, and Jesse Merlin is sinfully stuffy as the Captain, scheming to hook his daughter up with the wealthy and older Sir Joseph Porter (a hilariously obnoxious Ron Schneider). Mona King is a quirky delight as Little Buttercup (an alien woman), and James Jaegar is maniacally marvelous as a creepy lizard-like alien. I’m not kidding folks… I couldn’t make this stuff up! Victoria Gonzalez, Misha Bouvion, and Paton Ashbrook, are sizzlingly sassy as Sir Joseph’s flirty and flightly relatives. Rounding out this exhuberant cast as the Star Fleet Starship crew are: Tim Polzin, Michael Levin, Dave Berges, and Jason D. Rennie, as the ship’s computer. This is a highly entertaining show, loaded with stellar performances, fabulous vocalists, and a shipload of silliness! Adapted with a clever smattering of current day references tossed in, and comedically considering the dilemma of inappropriate love and lust, crossing the lines of position and class… I loved every insane moment! For a light and looney theatrical treat that blasts you out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into a solar system full of nutty characters, Do See This One! Running weekends through June 27th at Crown City Theatre. 11031 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For tickets call 818-605-5685.

Back next week to tell you all about two more opening shows. A high energy “senior revue” and a drama in Italy…

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