Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : Shakespeare(ish)

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Shakespeare (ish)

This shows begins right where it ends in a kind of no man’s land of Shakespeare’s words, tropes, poetic styles and 8 year old fantasies of the more famous stories in the catalog.  They are certainly not lacking in exuberance or dedication. But even the masks, minor puppetry, delightfully frivolous sets and song making couldn’t keep this mess from its tipping point.

As a family friendly teaching tool mashup for youngsters or those who go deep for being young at heart, Shakepeare(ish) does highlight and instruct on important moments, characters and ideas adding some adorable off-handed, off-text audience participation.  As a stage play, it’s purely non-sensical which for some is the reason to experience it.  They could cut it down a bit however, for the older kids in the room who were finding some of the scenes repetitive and long.

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : Fuck You Jason or Medea

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

fuck you jason or medea

Talk about complicated relationships!

It’s true Medea is an angry women.  And “hell hath no fury” barely touches upon the “I can give it and take it away” revenge this neglected and tossed off wife inflicts upon a man she’s given up everything and committing horrific acts of violence for – abandoning and betraying her own family, killing her own brother, helping Jason to steal the golden fleece at the expense of incurring wrath from the gods in order to hand him a glorious destiny – all for love of course.  So what she’s a witch dude!  Foreign chicks are sexier, that’s why no one can handle it!  But since you’re not her everything, she’s decided you’ll be her nothing — and the kids too.

Fuck You Jason or Medea is a modernized and very complicated, unbalanced display of this Greek classic. And Medea’s performance did nothing to absolve the confusing direction.  As part of the inaugural season of the Poor Man’s Theatre Company, it’s definitely an interesting start, but director, producer, costume/tech designer, Benny Lee Harris Lumpkins Jr. has taken on far too much responsibility, single-handedly trying to reign in the story and the running-amok-of-the-characters cast in this case.  With at least an assistant, it might have left him free enough to truly bring the “fresh” tone he was working for in this version.

Gia #HFF15 #Review : Hollywood and Broadway

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Hollywood and Broadway

I have no idea why they were telling this story. And I have a feeling, neither did they.

Somehow  Hollywood and Broadway felt like an extension of the Hudson Theatre’s 2014 “Hollywood Party” a 1920s murder mystery parodying legendary film superstars, like Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John Gilbert and Enid Bennett in the melodramatic style of old Hollywood black and white film.  This time around however, the only thing glittering were the necklaces. The story, an ode, is based on the real life account of aging actresses Tallulah Bankhead and Gloria Swanson receiving the New York Page One Award for their careers in entertainment on April 13, 1951.  And while they may be friends in the public eye these ladies along with additional actress Aileen Pringle, go head to head in an all out pre-show dressing room combat for liquor, gossip, one-ups-manship and insults.  It’s almost one and a half hours too long for the pure exhibitionism on display with and added sloppy screwball jewel theft comedy, but mostly no relevant content or directional line for the audience to play with.   There’s something good here but this one really needs a serious re-do and a rein-in.  The show could also be cast with older, age appropriate actresses who could play up the melo-drama much more authentically.  Octavio Carlin can do better.

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : The Snail

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

The Snail

It was actually a gorgeous and timely piece which dealt, chapter by chapter, with he life of a boy who eventually becomes a women. In the most Italian I’ve communicated with in years, I spoke with the director and some of the cast after the show.  They wanted to tell a graceful, heartfelt, sympathetic comic story that English-speaking audiences would understand.  Only thing is, the translation and ultimately the direction came across heavy-handed. And many of us in the audience agreed, this show would have been much more potent in its original form, in Italian with super-titles.  There were some culturally hilarious moments but they quickly devolved into unending depression, confusion and crying.  And there was an extraneous character no one could figure out even with the post show explanation. The story ends on a beautiful note however. Our lead character dies, but through the unbelievable accident of getting a woman pregnant as a young man in her early days, she leaves a child behind. There is a chance for a new beginning and we are left with hope.

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : Spiderpocalypse

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

spiderpocalypse

The Spiders are everywhere!

This apocalyptic low budget film for stage parody went the distance in trying to capture arachnid cult insanity.  There were a few great bits from menacing violent spider puppets on strings as well as teen scream fantasy leading lady boyfriend Bradley James Holzer’s shirtless chippendales gag (I only wish he would have lost the pants!) and awesome performances by deliciously controlling Spider Queen Sarah Lilly; and our favorite tough guy Isaac Deakyne’s batman voiced coffee barista who gets knocked off just when he finds the love of his dreams with the brattiest customer of the shop he can’t stand…figures!  But they just couldn’t quite pull it together for the full frontal horror or hilarity.  Every show deserves a happy ending and this one gets it mostly right.   Our heroine at least gets her guy.

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews The Three Musketeers: Clowns with Swords

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Clowns with Swords: The Three Musketeers

I admit clowns are not my thing.  They kind of scare me. I don’t always think they are funny.  And Clowns with Swords, although most distinctively contrasted from other mere buffoons, and immeasurably nonsensical are no “merry-andrews” either.

Imagine Alexandre Dumas’ adventurous heroes in what you may have assumed till now a romantic classic thanks to many cavalier film versions brought to life with beautiful dashing casts, elaborate costumes and awe-inspiring court scenery.  Then pause…

Clowns with Swords has definitely not only deconstructed this tale through the twisted lens of a clown, but in fact through extreme absurdity has lent a more accurate character portrayal in the way Dumas wrote them in the novel – less appealing infantry men willing to commit violence over slight insults and treating those they assume are their social or moral inferiors with contempt and cruelty.

Proportionately tangled the expertly orchestrated mechanics: aggressive physical movement choreography, stunts, mime, aerial and wire work, go a long way in telling their version of The Three Musketeers.  Fooling around, silly gags and slapstick diversions drive this piece in the capture and attempted execution of their female nemesis all for a magical paper that will create anyone’s own ending to a story.  The hot pursuit of their own outlandish brand of justice actually turns them into the villains they are supposedly hunting and we ultimately route for the bad girl as she thwarts them.

As billed – vulgar and irreverent, hilarious and poetic – The Three Musketeers: Clowns with Swords is a much meatier enterprise than most.  No simple jesters allowed. Belly laughs will be scarce.  Expect instead to be sufficiently captivated and sometimes appalled but well entertained by this piece.

Mixed.

One more performance!

Sunday June 28 2015, 5:30 PM | 1hr

Actors Company (OTHER SPACE THEATER) 916 N.Formosa Ave map

Tickets: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2238?tab=details

Gia #HFF15 #Reviews : Thénardiers Inn: A Les Misérables Cabaret

by Marc Wheeler
THENARDIERS INN - A LES MISERABLES CABARET

“Are you sure you wanna sing this song?! Russell Crowe sang it in the movie and ruined the whole thing!”

“I am Javert!” (Insert cheers from the crowd as they toss one down the hatch). “Fuck Russell Crowe!”

And we’re off, bitches.

Clearly this isn’t your grandmother’s “Les Misérables.” In fact, it’s #NotLesMis, or in the words of the 70-year-old woman in front of me who couldn’t stop laughing at the purposeful mispronunciation of Cosette as Corvette, “I didn’t know it was a comedy!”

Oh, but it is. And we’re also in a bar drinking with a bunch of theater queens — and suddenly it all makes sense.

“Les Mis” is finally getting the wink-wink, nudge-nudge treatment you didn’t even know you wanted thanks to writer/director/Enjolras (oh my!) Nicholas Rubando.

For those of you who’ve no idea what I’m talking about… why are you reading this?

“Thénardiers Inn,” now wrapping its sold out Hollywood Fringe Festival run (with nearly-confirmed rumors of an extension!) is a delightful, raucous treat for its target audience — alcoholics. Kidding — “Les Mis” fans. That being said, even virgins and those marginally acquainted will have no trouble following along as Master of the House himself — “Les Mis” comic relief innkeeper Thénardier (Nathan Ondracek) –narrates Victor Hugo’s 1862 epic tale of stolen bread as told by way of 1980s musical.

The cast does mostly solid work bringing this experiment to life. A few weaker links in the bunch are balanced out with a few stronger, most notably Bette Davis bright-eyed Lauren Byrd and her dazzling vocals as Corvette… Cornet… Cosette… (whatever)… as well as powerhouse Michael Thomas-Visgar as 24601 Jean Valjean and hilarious booming baritone Lee Marshall (director) as ambiguously gay, wanna-get-in-Valjean’s-jeans Javert — wait, what?! (Finally, the world’s longest man-chase in musical theater history makes sense. You’re welcome).

As far as jokes and ever-evolving improv, it’s definitely hit and miss — luckily the hits outweigh. Audience participation (whether your like it or not — watch your purses ladies, and laps fellas!) makes for many laughs. Costumes are gorgeous and period-appropriate. And ever-flowing booze from the bar staff makes this “Les Mis” unlike all others.

Musical direction by “pec-tacular-Marius” Dan Sugi. Tech by Julia Lisa. Produced by Creating Arts Studios.

At the end of the day, if taking the piss yet honoring the score is your castle on a cloud, there’s no need to dream any dreams — your revolution is here. So get your tix now before they sell out. They’ll be no empty chairs or empty tables.

Recommended.

The Three Clubs cocktail lounge
1123 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Running time: 130 mins

Fringe – Sold out. 

Just extended. New dates, times and address to be announced.

Fringe site:

http://hff15.org/2249

Official site: Thénardiers Inn | Creating Arts Studios