by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Intermission finally happened at 10pm. And yet, there were 8 more songs to go. What should have been a triumphant musical debut ended up as an exhausting, overly-long, awkward vocal translation.

DOMA Theatre Company has partnered with Requiem Media Productions, LLC to present the world premiere of, Dorian’s Descent, a new musical based on Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

There was plenty of lyric talent, no question. But such a lack of “worldly” experience coupled with the disharmony of the confusing and occasionally dowdy costumes, (What time period were they in?  I couldn’t decide.) catty, broken fourth wall conversational interludes which did nothing to evolve the drama, a wide range of dialects from modern street to old-school, upper class British, perplexing character choices and occasional blatant overacting, hardly served this show.

Leaning on the very much light side of love, seduction, decadence, hedonism and murder, this entire presentation is ambitious in intent, but gets lost in the delivery right from the beginning with pacing that was far too slow for any stage drama, let alone a musical one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, a classic Gothic fiction with a strong Faustian theme, although written by Oscar Wilde in 1890, is one that holds up and is very relevant for today’s image-obsessed culture.  Where novel and musical fissure is the attempt to dramatize Dorian’s internal conflict about growing old. It just didn’t register and stayed on the surface, superficial, without depth.

As written by Oscar Wilde, artist Basil Hallward is infatuated and inspired by Dorian’s beauty as the subject of his painting, a masterpiece.  Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil’s, and becomes enthralled by his view on youth and fulfillment of the senses.  Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses a desire to sell his soul so that the painting, rather than himself would grow old and he would stay forever young. The portrait from then on grotesquely displays every act of sin Dorian commits as he pursues a life of debauchery, losing his innocence entirely.

Director Marco Gomez took pains to stay as close to the source material as possible and Dorian’s Descent actually does a very good job of following the original storyline.  On the deservedly bright side, there were excellent singing performances by several leads and chore members alike including the show-stopping Zodiac Girls: Tiffany Williams, Susan Huckle and Jillian Easton, but namely powerhouse Cassandra Nuss as Sibyl Vane, Dorian’s tragic lover, a surprisingly passionate Tony Graham as James Vane, and Jeremy Saje who delivers a more real persona as Basil Hallward. Lead actor Michael D’Elia is given the heavy task of carrying this show almost entirely and does so very well, but his limited emotional range is often eclipsed by his singing talent. He nevertheless, puts in a strong performance if not nuanced.  Overall the cast is even and the music exciting, although predictable.

The show is just too long.

Book by Chris Raymond, Marco Gomez and Michael Gray
Lyrics by Marco Gomez and Chris Raymond
Music by Chris Raymond
Directed and staged by Marco Gomez
Musical direction/orchestrations by Chris Raymond
Choreography by Tania Possick
Starring: Kelly Brighton, Johanna Rose Burrell, Kevin Corsini, Michael D’Elia, Robert Glen Decker, Andrew Diego, Tony Dooley, Jillian Easton, Kia Dawn Fulton,Tony Graham, Lauren Hill, Michelle Holmes, Susan Huckle, Michael Liles, Cassandra Nuss, Garret Riley, Jeremy Saje, Toni Smith, Jenny Torgerson, Tiffany Williams, Lindsay Zana

Produced by Mike Abramson and Dolf Ramos
Presented by DOMA Theatre Company and Requiem Media Productions, LLC

The MET Theatre
1089 N. Oxford Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029

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