Monday, July 28, 2008

review-Alice in One-Hit Wonderland

Alice in One-Hit Wonderland 2,
Through the Looking Glass
Falcon Theatre
directed by Matt Walker
through October 12
A guaranteed gift: the Troubies always lift my spirits, regardless of whether the object of their rambunctious satire is Shakespeare or in this case Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. They're part circus, part theatre, part TV, part concert, part gymnastics - there's something for everyone. The music here consists of supposed one hit wonders made famous by a variety of artists, and the plot of Alice involves Alice Nelson of The Brady Bunch fame, bored with her domestic life, plunging through the looking glass in search of a brand new existence. Who better to play Alice than the brilliant, rubber-faced comic actress Beth Kennedy! She has such fun in this role and playing opposite Matt Walker (director, co-conspirator and fellow thespian). Their chemistry together is electric: akin to the fireworks of Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman.
This play, like all of the Troubies' work simply ROCKS and, for me, at least, will remain one of their best. I love them all, but there is something special about this one: all the ingredients come together perfectly, like a scrumptious soufle! The Wonderland set is extra colorful, as well as all those funky characters; in fact, no acid trip could produce a more jubilant ride. Loved the Red Queen (terrific Lisa Valenzuela with the belting voice), Jabberwocky, Humpty Dumpty (especially the gross aftermath of his fall) and the flying Nat Funicello, among others.
This is Part 2 of Alice. The plot of the first with a diverse mix of fairy tale characters opens the show. Walker serves as narrator Lewis Carroll, observing and making changes in the book as the story unfolds, and jumps in to play Mike Brady and others. Pretentious, of course! Silly, you got it! Is everybody happy onstage and off? That's a unanimous whoopeeee!
Five stars.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

review-Singin' in the Rain

Singin' In the Rain
Cabrillo Music Theatre
Thousand Oaks
directed by Larry Raben
through August 3
Singin' in the Rain is one of the most beloved movie musicals, not only due to its great song and dance numbers, but because it features 3 blockbuster talents: Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. Rarely onstage, the show is appealing if the right actors recreate these roles, and with David Engel starring as Don Lockwood (the Gene Kelly part), you can be assured that the show is in good hands - and feet. Engel, along with Randy Rogel and Shanon Mari Mills make such magic that this new version is fresh, exciting and on a par with the original. Director Raben does a bangup job by putting back into the second act of the show the "Broadway Melody" Ballet, and Engel's choreography is ...well, there was Kelly and Astaire and now there's Engel and may he choreograph and dance forever!
Another reason to see this show besides Engel is Melissa Fahn as Lina Lamont. For those that remember the film Jean Hagen was the scene-stealer and Fahn is just as memorable.
Don't miss this one thru next Sunday only!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chaperone - Drowsier than ever!!!!!!!

The Ahmanson's Drowsy Chaperone is better than ever! Jonathan Crombie as the narrator engaged me from start to finish. His portrayal is a tad more gay than the original (creator Bob Martin), but pleasantly giddy and such fun. He's added so much more onstage business to the character that he's a whole show all by himself!
The entire cast, including the delightful Georgia Engel, deserve the highest praise. When I first reviewed the show for reviewplays 3 years ago, I liked it, but now after multiple honings and rewrites and changes, it's superb! A musical within a comedy - unique, silly - silly is good - and those dance numbers -WOWSERS!!!!!! Where was that Tony for Best Musical!?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Debbie Does the El Portal

Debbie Reynolds is one hot mama at 76 years old! She not only has the gams to prove it, she is as hilarious as all get out and has enough warmth to spread the entire planet with sunshine. The audience was eating out of her hand for the full 90 minute set. With great songs: "From This Moment On", "That's Life!", "Falling In Love Is Wonderful", a Judy Garland medley and Debbie's signature hit "Tammy", impressions of Katie Hepburn, Zsa Zsa and Barbra Streisand (BS) - this one, no one does better than Debbie, even the singing; sorry, Jim Bailey - and film clips from her musical films, to which Deb sang & danced along joyously, and clips of Carrie and Todd as kids, the show was cookin', no, smokin'. There were even fab out-takes from old stars like Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis and Bogie - these are priceless and going into her new museum in Pigeon Fork, Tennessee next spring! Best of luck with that; Hollywood sure missed the boat!
Debbie loves what she does from the bottom of her heart and she loves her audiences. God bless her and may she never retire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her show runs at the El Portal until July 20 only; don't miss it!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July Madness

It's already July, and time to start thinking about the greatest performances that I have seen so far this season. So thrilled that my favorite Great Expectations is back! I am re-posting its review on the review page. Check out my interview with David Engel and Larry Raben. These two phenomenal talents are getting set to open Singin' in the Rain at Thousand Oaks later this month. I'm looking forward to Debbie Reynolds at the El Portal, Looped at the Pasadena Playhouse with Valerie Harper as the one and only Tallulah Bankhead and The Wizard of Oz at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, as well as Toni Morrell at the Whitefire and Peter Loewy's latest project Respect at the El Portal Secondstage -if you remember, he so brilliantly directed Brian Childers as Danny Kaye a few months ago on the Mainstage there.
July is busy - maddening in fact, but promises to be fun and oh so exciting!