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Online Entertainment Magazine

May 2004



Theater Reviews

                     

A New Kind of Revival

      

HOLLYWOOD, CA - The Ridge family's land is at stake. When the patriarch is presumed dead and the oldest son decides to sell the Moab Utah wilderness to a shark investor/mad man who also leads the local cult. Mardecon, feverishly played by Christopher Paul Hart, wants to develop the land into strip malls... that and eradicate all body hair. But that's not the only loon in town. The hippie squatters combined with the town's corrupt leader, religious tourists and nuclear terrorists round out the madness. Thank goodness there is the sly coyote, who's masterful disguises enable him to walk his way into any situation and manipulate the town folk out of self destruction. And this is all done in iambic pentameter. 

        Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents Midnight Brainwash Revival, an original work by Kirk Wood Bromley (the only contemporary American playwright working consistently in iambic pentameter) with direction by Alexander Yannis Stephano. Bromley's unique and vivid characters are extremely entertaining to watch and you never know what's coming next in this modern melodrama. The strong ensemble cast includes Annie Abrams, Gary Ballard, Ted DeVirgilis, M.E. Dunn, Dan Etheridge, Eric Giancoli, Jacy Gross, Adam Harrington, Kyle Ingleman, Diana Jellinek, Joe Jordan, Liesel Kopp, Yuri Lowenthal, Bruno Oliver, Paul Plunkett, Mark McClain Wilson and Philip Wofford. The Sacred Fools Theatre Company has a fine reputation of using their stage space to it's full potential. Midnight Brainwash Revival is without exception. We're taken from the vast expanses of a stark desert to a hotel room and local watering hole and then to catacombs; all transitions lasting mere moments. Subtle lighting design by Jason Mullen and sound by Mark McClain Wilson enhanced the sets and costumes by Ovation Award-winning designer M.E. Dunn. Midnight Brainwash Revival runs through June 26, 2004. - R. Harker  Printable view
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Live from Hollywood,

It's Saturday Night!

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - Years before Into the Woods or Sweeney Todd,  and long before the song "Send in the Clowns" graced the stages of Broadway, famed composer Stephen Sondheim wrote this delightful, yet simplistic (compared to other Sondheim favorites) musical called Saturday Night.  Based on Julius and Phillip Epstein's play, Front Porch in Flatbush, Sondheim wrote the musical with plans for producer Lemuel Ayers to mount the production in 1959.  After Ayers died later that year, Sondheim decided to move on to other projects, namely West Side Story and Gypsy for which his lyrics made him famous.  In 1997, Saturday Night was finally produced giving Sondheim fans a chance to see the master's first attempt at musical theater. It's a charming, fun-filled musical.  

         

 

       

        The Chromolume Theatre Company at The Stella Adler Theatre has brought Sondheim's Saturday Night to the west coast.  Directed and choreographed by Jon Engstrom, the musical gives the audience a glimpse of 1920's small town life.  The opening number, "Saturday Night" is sung by four awkward young men worrying about  not having a date for the weekend.   Performed by Christopher Chen, Kevin Henry, Thomas Colby and James Daly, they finally get one date between the four of them.  The harmony and melodic interplay between the men is quite clever in the opening number as well as the reprise in Act II.  When they finally get two dates, they are thrilled to realize that they now have 1/2 of a date each instead of 1/4: a vast improvement. 

          

         Newcomer to LA Theater, Nathan J. Moore and veteran Jennifer Bangs made a charming leading couple.  With several dance numbers executed with wonderful style and elegance, they filled the stage with energy.  One would never know that Moore is so new to the theater, both his dancing and singing were effortless and mesmerising.  Jennifer Bangs' two solo songs, "Isn't It?" and "All For You" were among the best moments in the production.  

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        Playing the only steady couple, Hank and Celeste, were Adam LeBow and Gwen Copeland.  Their Act II duet "I Remember That" about their differing views on their first meeting was a showstopper, hinting at the true brilliance of Sondheim's writing. 

      

"I Remember That"

     

        The entire cast, under the musical direction of Gary Gray, sang well and appeared to have a great deal of fun on stage.  The ensemble included:  James Stevens, Gabriella Sacci, Jamie McMurray, Alissa-Nicole Koblentz, Richard Cline Cunningham and Jeffrey Wolf.  The sets were very simple, which seemed appropriate for the light nature of the story.   It may be a far cry from Sondheim's later works, but considering it's his first musical it's worth seeing.  It is so nice when a theater ventures away from the standard repertoire. Keep an eye on The Chromolume Theatre as it continues to bring exciting new  theatrical experiences to Los Angeles audiences. - Thomas  Printable view

 

 

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