Following a successful fall run, Open Fist Theatre Company’s world premiere of Neil Simon’s Musical Fools reopened on January 3 for a limited three-week engagement closing on January 26. 

A lyrical adaptation of Neil Simon’s celebrated play, Fools, the musical set in 1893 follows a young tutor who has found himself battling against a curse that has victimized a Ukrainian village. Hilarious and family-friendly, the audience joins the protagonist as he encounters every type of stupid and dumb there is: book smart, naïve, literal, professionally dumb, bureaucratically dumb and all the other idiotic personalities you can think of. 

Jason Paige, Derek Manson,
Clare Snodgrass and Robyn Roth (Darrett Sanders)

“This simple allegory has a certain, perhaps unfortunate resonance in today’s political and cultural climate,” explains Open Fist artistic director Martha Demson. “But what I really love are the creative tunes and choreography and the incredible imagination that Ron brings to the storytelling. It’s theatrical, charming, entertaining … and very funny.”

The show features book and lyrics by Neil Simon, alongside music and lyrics by Phil Swann and Ron West, known for his work with Chicago comedy troupe The Second City, deLEARious and The People Vs Friar Laurence

West agrees with Demson’s review, adding: “People are really going to enjoy Phil’s melodies. And yes, it is very, very funny!”

Featured in the show is millennial darling Jason Paige, best known for being the iconic voice of the ever-present Pokémon theme song. A true artist, fans remember him sharing the stage with Michael Jackson, as well as providing vocals for beloved singers such as Foreigner and Billy Joel. Whether singing jingles, touring the world, or delighting generations of Pokémon fans with his robust social media and video presence, it is without a doubt that Paige puts his all into each and every one of his performances.  

James Byous and Clare Snodgrass (Darrett Sanders)

Weaving the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s work into a musical comedy alongside Paige are his Open Fist Theatre Company colleagues: James Byous, known for his work in Netflix’s Westside, Parvesh Cheena, Cat Davis, Nina Genatossio, Ben Goldberg, Bruce Green, Juliane Hagn, Demetris Hartman, Hank Jacobs, Derek Manson, Brendan Mulally, Diane Renee, Beth Robbins, Robyn Roth, Bolor Saruul, Jack Sharpe and Clare Snodgrass.

As arguably one of the most successful and accomplished playwrights in recent history, adapting Simon’s works is no small undertaking. A self-producing artistic collective, Open Fist Theatre Company has proven to be up to the task. 

Audiences can catch the show Sat.-Mon. at the Atwater Village Theatre. Appropriate for families with children age 8 and older, tickets can be purchased individually or in packs by calling (323) 882-6912 or visiting

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