Sunday, April 27, 2008

May brings flowers

Darren Ritchie and Co., exterminating those nasty pests
The NoHoArts Center has opened an original work of blockbuster proportions as far as production values are concerned: Pest Control, The Musical. I was intrigued and mesmerized by James Mellon's terrific staging and choreography (not since Cats, have so many creatures made so grande an entrance!), blown away by the nightmarish lighting design (Luke Moyer) and brilliant costumes (Scott Lane), and enthralled with the fabulous performances from among others: Beth Malone, Darren Ritchie, John Allsopp (so happy to see this talented Actor's Co-op man in NoHo), Joanna Glushak (giving new meaning to the word BITCH), and the formidable Cleavant Derricks. With the look of Tim Burton's Batman - yes, it's very dark and cartoonish, my main gripe with this project is that it is too 'out there', too broad and much too vague. Yes, good wins out over evil, or does it????? Book by John Jay Moores, Jr. could use some fine tuning. Young theatre aficionados will exult in the hip hop dancing and glaring music by Vladimir Shainskiy and Scott DeTurk (lyrics). This show did not grab me, but it will appeal to many. There is a place for it. But guys, please add more heart and likeability to the characters. Without some human touches, they just do not hold up! The dynamite actors playing them deserve more!!!!!!!!!
May brings flowers, at least to LA Theatre folk! Great Expectations, the Musical, playing at the Hudson Backstage and directed by Jules Aaron, has ben extended to May 11. It's grrrreat! My word, I think Charles Dickens would exult!
More to come!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April/No Time to Mourn

My friend James Albright, actor/ dancer/writer/costumer and owner of the Haunted Studios on Chandler in NoHo, passed away on March 28 peacably in his sleep. I am reminded of the time I first met James in 2002 when he dressed me as Saint Patrick for a play at the Bitter Truth. I was so taken by the eccentricities of Gilbert Costumes and of the man himself, that I felt the need to do an interview with him shortly thereafter for Valley Scene Magazine, for which I was theatre editor at the time. He was a genuine free spirit and compared himself to Peter Pan. He was a great movie buff - adored the glamour queens like Rita Hayworth and Greta Garbo, and we shared some marvelous stories whenever we attended the theatre together. I am happy to have known you, James, for your meanspiritedness & bizarre sense of humor - you made me laugh a lot! Godspeed!!!! You have surely found a better place -if not NeverNeverLand, then somewhere just as delightfully & everlastingly gay, no doubt!