Theater Reviews: Lady, A Chorus Line, I Gelosi | Theater | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Theater Reviews: Lady, A Chorus Line, I Gelosi 

Also, The Legendary Times of Bulgakov, and more

Monday, May 26 2008

A CHORUS LINE is the musical about a musical, and about the poor schlubs who dance their hearts out just for a chance to be seen in a Broadway show. This is the great-grandfather of Survivor. Through gratingly intrusive interview questions, we get glimpses into the lives of the thespians and then watch the elimination matches as slightly compassionate, slightly sadistic choreographer Zach (Michael Gruber) sends home the disqualified. A Chorus Line’s real choreographer, Michael Bennett, directed the original; co-created by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, lyricist Edward Kleban and composer Marvin Hamlisch, the 1976 production put the New York Public Theater on the map and was the longest-running Broadway musical (more than 6,000 performances) for about seven centuries. Here, Baayork Lee has restaged Bennett’s choreography, and the show is directed by the original co-choreographer, Bob Avian. The revolving-mirror backdrop (parodied in The Producers) is combined with catchy, superficial performances, for a celebration of narcissism wrapped around an homage to dance. The snappy, shape-shifting patterns of the jazzy choreography are gorgeous, and there are moments of pathos from Nikki Snelson’s Cassie. She’s Zach’s ex, now unemployed and trying to fall back into a chorus line after a failed pursuit of Hollywood celebrity. Because the chorus line is where home is. Uh-huh. Gabrielle Ruiz’s spunky Puerto Rican dancer, Diana, handles “What I Did for Love” with gentle esprit. And Natalie Hall’s Val (“Dance: Ten; Looks: Three”) has the squeak and spunk of a young Bernadette Peters. But with so much posing and strutting in this hall of mirrors, the production has all the poignancy of American Idol. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m. (July 6 perf at 8:30 p.m.; no Sun. eve perf June 22; added mats Thurs., June 19 & July 3, 2 p.m.; thru July 6. (213) 628-2772. A Center Theatre Group production. (Steven Leigh Morris)

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click to flip through (6) Lady
  • Lady


Chris Covics

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Kingdom Come

Paul Kolnik

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A Chorus Line


DREAM MAN We’re several decades past the era when a queer-themed play could earn accolades just by daring to exist. James Carroll Pickett’s one-man one-act about a gay phone-sex operator returns to the theater where it premiered in 1985, but struggles to justify the reprise. On a slow night, Christopher (Jimmy Shaw) fields calls from two lonely-hearts, a psychopath and his ex-boyfriend, while waxing grandiloquently about sex and illusion. Both the scant action and the actor himself are drowned in Pickett’s gilded prose; one of this staging’s crucial weaknesses is that a man who manipulates with words can’t get a handle on his own. He’s too melodramatic to be taken at face value, but his speeches aren’t delivered with a wink. What’s hammered home is that hired seduction hollows the soul and we all mask a dash of perversion — obvious truths made even more obvious by Michael Kearns’ hand-holding direction, which presses Shaw to overact, underlines his big moments with thunderclaps and even has him writhe on a platform under red lights each time he rhapsodizes about screwing. YouTube records show that Kearns, who originated the role, allowed himself more naturalism — a necessity for a play that’s on the brink of losing its relevance. Skylight Theater, 1816 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru June 1. (310) 358-9936. A Camelot Artists Production. (Amy Nicholson)


GO  GROUNDLINGS KEY PARTY The latest collection of sketches by the Groundlings is fast-paced and furiously funny. Sharply directed by Ted Michaels, no skit goes on too long, a frequent problem with other comedy troupes and a recurrent complaint about Saturday Night Live. In the evening’s first sketch, “Mistaken Identity,” gender roles and expectations get skewered by writer-performer Annie Sertich and performers Stephanie Courtney, Tim Brennen, Mitch Silpa and Michaela Watkins. Equally amusing is Watkins’ “I’m Alright,” a skit about a drunken cousin who won’t relinquish the microphone at a wedding. Edi Patterson’s “Campbell’s” offers a hilarious spoof of nonactors who can’t stick to a script. Director Michaels oversees several brief improv segments throughout the evening, most of which incorporate audience suggestions, and in one bit, Courtney and Ariane Price were hilarious as a pair of polygamist standup comics. Hidden under a series of cheap wigs, Silpa is uproariously funny in all of his sketches, and particularly in “Extra Extra” (which he co-wrote with Watkins), a bit about inexperienced actors trying to master the “spit take.” Music between the skits is courtesy of Willie Etra, Howard Greene and Larry Treadwell. Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; indef. (323) 934-4747, Ext. 37. (Sandra Ross) *

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