Sunday, September 13, 2009

review - Follow Your Dreams

Follow Your Dreams

book and lyrics by Laurie Stevens and Ronald Jacobs

music by Doug Goodwin and Norman Henry Mamey

directed by Stan Mazin and Chris Winfield

Secret Rose Theatre

through October 31

Telemarketing has always provided an income for actors, artists, housewives and disabled people who just don't fit into regular steady 9-5 jobs. For their new musical set in the world of telemarketing Follow Your Dreams, the producers/creators have wisely put together an assortment of characters from various ethnic backgrounds and a diversely talented cast of actors to portray them.

The characters are interesting, the cast terrific and the direction top-notch, but Follow Your Dreams does not work. First of all, there are 2 completely different styles at play, which crash into each other. The characters of the supervisor (Dan Woren), Big Boss (Dennis Delsing), Tammy (talented Judy Ho), corporate Howard (Lee Biolos) and sometimes even sexy Maria (beautiful and supertalented Adreana Gonzalez) come off as cartoons and their predicaments/entanglements, unbelievably unreal. Alicia (lovely Rebecca Jensen), Richard (Hector Hank) and doctor Tom (Sean McGee), who form a triangle, June (delightful Lana Ford) and rapper Lil Pill (Kamel Dickinson, right on target) are about as grounded and real as you can get.

Somehow the central story of artist Alicia - her passion is to become a painter - and her attraction to Richard, an appealing guy but pitiful drug addict propels the plot forward favorably. June's disintegrating marriage should be further explored and so should Maria's devotion to her family. We see her fussing and fretting in the restroom attempting to create a breakthrough formula for sexual enhancement - but we are not allowed to see her pain and frustrations underneath.These characters deserve an in-depth treatment; not the superficial ones they are getting now. This is the stage, not a sitcom!

My suggestion is to stick with the realistic elements of the plot and rewrite those other characters' behavior to a more humanistic level. As is, they are little more than cardboard cutouts. What about the supervisor, for example? Make his relationship to the group more than a fumbling taskmaster! Capitalize on his flaws! And give Tammy a chance to redeem herself! Would she really be happy running off with Howard? Come on, their relationship would last about 10 minutes! Flesh out these people!

Another suggestion: change the title: isn't there already a Disney TV show with the same name?

The music is a bit colorless and does nothing to advance the story, except for the repetition of 'follow your dream' in many of them. Some of the tunes have a Disney feel, but seem unfinished. My suggestion is to give Lil Pill the title song.

Chris Winfield, as well as sharing directorial duties, has designed an attractive and efficient workplace set that includes a breakroom, restroom lounge and space for outside locations.

Overall, a good effort that has potential: go back to the drawing board, rewrite, cut much of the music, and keep on a realistic track.

3 out of 5 stars


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