Moby Dick (South Coast Rep)

Wmoby-dick_lookingglass - Copye made the trek down to SCR and once again, were not disappointed! Moby Dick, which was originally produced by Lookingglass Theatre Company in association with Actors Gymnasium in Chicago (and is also a co-production with Alliance Theatre and Arena Stage), is an event! The production was like Blue Man Group meets Cirque du Soleil – highly acrobatic and innovative. The performers had child-like exuberance, swinging and gliding all over the stage. The piece was overall very faithful to the original material (I read the book before the production) and the actors were superb.

The things they did still blow my mind. When the white whale finally makes an appearance it is truly terrifying – with fire alarms going off, prehistoric screams, and a white sheet dragged over the entire audience’s heads. It was exhilarating to say the least! Moby Dick is minimalist theatre at its finest. To illustrate, when a whale spouted water they rained confetti down. I could tell you all the other innovative and creative ways they made Melville’s work come to life with little-to-nothing, but I wouldn’t be doing it justice. If you are ever in Chicago and have an opportunity to see a Lookingglass Theatre Company show, you must! It will change the way you think about theatre.

– Trevor

Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum)

IMG_7759CTG’s Zoot Suit by Luiz Valdez is everything you could want and more. The play is just as relevant as it was when it first premiered at CTG under Gordon Davidson. The play gives a voice and perspective to the Chicano and entertains regardless of your background.

I studied Chicano Theater when I attended UCLA and read many of Valdez’s works. I learned that Valdez is excellent at being truthful to the culture while adding magical realism. His company, El Teatro Campesino, would perform plays for the farm workers in the fields on the back of truck beds and helped Cesar Chavez with his National Farm Workers Association. Valdez is an activist and presents powerful messages for his audiences. If you miss out on hearing Zoot Suit’s message at the Mark Taper, don’t worry because Valdez’s Valley of the Heart will be presented at LATC in the future, and I would be shocked if this Zoot Suit production didn’t travel to Broadway like its predecessor.

-Trevor

Freaky Friday (La Jolla Playhouse)

unnamed (4)Freaky Friday is a real delight at the La Jolla Playhouse. The production is trying to go to Broadway and I definitely think it is worth seeing at this stage. It is not a perfect piece of theater, but it has a lot going for it. The biggest thing is the music. The team that won the Pulitzer for Next to Normal (Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey) have created some really wonderful songs that will stay with you. One favorite is “Oh, Biology” which takes place in a biology class and has a great beat that really gets the cast and audience going.

I haven’t seen the movies in a while, but I’m positive the musical has taken liberties that I feel are welcome. I don’t want to list them all, but one great example is that the daughter is over-weight, which helps add another dramatic layer to the mother-daughter dynamic. There is a theme of body issues which I believe is great for all the young females who will inevitably be watching this show with their mothers.

The cast is very strong and often doubles up on parts. My favorite though is Heidi Blickenstaff,  who plays a wonderful mother and portrays an angst filled teen with comedic ease. She is a magnet to the eyes and every scene she inhabits is stolen by her talent.

If you have a chance to see Freaky Friday it is a fun night out for the family. When we went the cast received an immediate standing ovation, which is rare these days.

– Trevor

Abduction from the Seraglio (LA Opera)

AAbduction while ago we saw Magic Flute at the LA Opera and it was out of this world. When we saw that LA Opera was doing another Mozart that was set in the roaring twenties, we thought it would be just as fun as Magic Flute. We were wrong about Abduction from the Seraglio.

The show was definitely entertaining and hilarious, but was just not at the level Magic Flute was. This might be because the plot felt ridiculous (escaping from a train with a ladder made from sheets), the score was not as complex (Abduction is an earlier Mozart piece), or because the show was a little too long.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought there were some truly hilarious moments, and Soo Young Kim is becoming a star for Angelenos, like Ana Maria Martinez before her.

At the Ford Amphitheater, they did Seraglio but adapted it to have characters from Star Trek. That to me might have been more interesting, but would most likely not have read well with the LA Opera subscribers.

Abduction was a fun night out, but not up to par with most LA Opera shows we have seen.

– Trevor