Audience: Matt Ritchey
If there were to be a King of Hollywood Fringe musicals, it would have to be Michael Shapiro. 2019’s THE BULLY PROBLEM was a phenomenal Broadway-class project and his new Call to Adventure, GIDEON ANDTHE BLUNDERSNORP, follows perfectly. Shapiro’s shows always nail all the vitals – perfect casting, great directing and choreography, and (most importantly) laser-precision crafted story. With likable characters, funny dialogue, beautiful character- and story-driven songs, and a vulnerable and sweet heart, his shows always deliver. Direction and choreography by Matthew Toronto are spot-on (timing and delivery for everyone was impeccable) and the whole cast shines. The use of puppetry and Greg Craft’s lighting were wonderful. Incidentally, I saw this as a streaming show and the quality of the additional technical elements was also outstanding. StudioStage was the perfect location for this show. Bravo. I look forward to the next one!
Padua Playwrights has done it again. Guy Zimmerman and Juli Crockett's "meditation" on Macbeth and the film noir classic "Double Indemnity" follows last year's JACK BENNY as the existential show of the year to see. The similarities in the themes - murder for benefit, seduction, greed - and the blend of characters, from Macbeth/Walter to the Three Barbara Stanwytches, create a bizarre and engrossing ride of noirish 50's tropes mixed with high-octane showstopping musical numbers. Speaking of music, the live performance of the sound effects and music by Michael Feldman is astonishing - including brilliant use of microphones (especially in a repeated foley gag with a bed of gravel). I find that I watch Juli Crockett's productions in the same way that I ride Space Mountain at Disneyland. There's so much meaning, such a fast flow of information, and such a barrage of seemingly disconnected ideas and inspirations, that simply lying back and letting everything wash over you, picking up what you can in the torrent. This is theatre as "theatre" - creating work to tickle your senses and make you think rather than simply cater some pre-packaged entertainment.