Online Entertainment Magazine

December  2003

Theater Reviews


A Ghost in the Darkness




HOLLYWOOD, CA -  As a prequel to the Charles Dickens classic Christmas Carol, Marley's Ghost wonderfully supplements the legend of Ebenezer Scrooge's nemesis and partner Jacob Marley.  Played convincingly by Keythe Farley, Marley is newly dead and after freeing himself from a burlap body back near his grave, must be convinced he is truly dead by the silent, but active phantom (Richard Augustine), who looks frightfully like an evil Cousin It.  Eventually, Marley is brought to the surreal courtroom scene to be shown how he lived his life, including how he helped to create the monster, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Bob Clendenin), and why he must now be put in chains.


The one act play takes you throughout the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, each scene set in a different location and culminating in an outlandish Alice in Wonderland trial within a large mausoleum.  The challenges of sound and lighting (designed by Geoff Korf) were overcome by the actor’s use of handheld lights and projecting their voices during outdoor scenes.  Also, the cast created a sound-scape of howling winds, barking dogs and other eerie effects which surrounds the audience from the darkness of night.


Johanna McKay delivers a standout performance as the twenty-foot tall prosecutor, while her marionette like hands, played by Anthony Backman and Ross Mackenzie helped bring the colorful character to life.  The prosecutor is a diminutive, flying spirit (Kevin Fabian) and the phantom acts as his defense attorney.


(cont.) The ensemble cast gave an exceptional performance in this new kind of "third dimensional" theater.  While creatively using this extraordinary environment with an original top-notch script (by Jeff Goode),  Marley's Ghost could easily become a new holiday classic.  - R. Harker  Printable View



We're not gonna pay this year's


LOS ANGELES, CA -  Rockin' out at the Wilshire Theater is the Tony Award Winning production of RENT.   A modern day retelling of the famous opera, La Boheme, this rock opera has developed a huge fan base, mostly from the younger generation.  Reminiscent of the days when Hair was the musical for the youth, the contemporary music is the vehicle for a message of ideals, taking a stand against injustice.  The popularity has been ever growing even to the degree that fans will wait more than 24 hours in line to sit in the front row.  


The story is familiar to those who know the opera.  A group of idealistic artists live in an upper loft in Alphabet City  in Manhattan.  Mark, played by Brian Gligor, begins making a documentary of their life and struggles on Christmas Eve.  Mark begins by filming Roger (Constantine Maroulis) the guitarist, as he tries to write one last song before he dies.  Being one of many characters who has AIDS, his life changes when he meets  Mimi who knocks on his door asking him to light her candle.  Mimi, played by Jamie Lee Kirchner, sang with dynamic energy, especially in "Out Tonight."  Playing Angel was Damien DeShaun Smith who was decked out in a "Miss Claus" outfit.  "She" really tole the show with "Today 4 U, " describing how he met his new lover, Collins (Marcus Paul James).  Marcus and Damien blended beautifully in their duet, "I'll Cover You," and Collins brought down the house with his solo performance of the reprise in Act Two.




(Cont.) The energy of the cast was felt throughout the production.  A high point of the show was the finale of Act One when Leslie Diamond, playing Maureen, sang "Over the Moon," and the entire cast joins in with "La Vie Boheme."  Another notable performance was that of Rebecca Jones, playing Maureen's on and off again lover, Joanne.  Their highly charged fight (duet), "Take Me or Leave Me" was one of the best renditions of all the other casts I have seen.  Another performance worth noting was David Pepin who conducted the band while playing keyboards.  Performing on stage with the actors, the band added to the excitement of the opening night of RENT.  The run is not very long, so don't miss  Wilshire Theater's fabulous production.  - M. Upward

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