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T H E A T E R   R E V I E W  -  Gaveston, Favourite of the King  -  Celebration Theatre



WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - Gaveston, Favourite of the King is a modern telling of the real life King of England, Edward II. When his father dies, Edward becomes King and his banished lover Gaveston is recalled to the royal court. With his new power, the King seems fairly blind to the rising conflict these choices have initiated. The King's advisors aren't so open-minded and revolt against Edward II. Eventually each character questions their motives and uncertainty abounds.

This musical has everything: love and hate, a gun battle, stage fights, nudity, a masquerade ball, torture and lots and lots of rhinestones. With minimal liner notes in the program and if your knowledge of English history is light, the story line and relation between some of the characters will remain unclear. Charles Alan was strong in the role of Gaveston as was Beau Puckett as the polished, albeit naive King. Barry O'Neil played the Young Prince with subtle artistry and rang true as the conflicted youth. Blanche Ramirez in the role of Alberta provided one of the more emotional moments of the evening when she sang Survive to her shaken cousin the King. The second act contains a magnetic scene where several characters simultaneously challenge their beliefs in God while praying for His comfort.
Composed by Christopher Winslow with book by Ken Prestininzi, Gaveston is the modern musical. The extremely challenging score was quite polished by the performers and although there were not many melodies one might hum at the evening's completion, the music gave the show solid momentum. The accomplished string players (Richard Adkins, Patrick Rosalez and Elizabeth Wright) with accompaniment by conductor Richard Berent added another level of professionalism to the production.
The dark, worn atmospheric set by Mercedes Younger and lighting by Kathi O'Donohue successfully complemented the aggressive nature of the music. Costuming was a bit inconsistent as the story is set in modern times. The Royal Family's uniforms seemed wrong for a modern setting and the Queen's tribute to Shirley Partridge was distractingly out of place during battle scenes where everyone else in the cast is outfitted in army fatigues and covered in the grim of war. 
This ambitious production was originally mounted as a concert reading in San Francisco in 2000 and is presented as a World Premier Musical at the Celebration Theatre through Sunday, February 20, 2005. For tickets, call 323-957-1884 or visit www.celebrationtheatre.com. - Ruston Harker

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