As a fan of James Marsters, well-known for his role as Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I was anxious to see how this evil vampire would transform into a geeky nurdish Chris of the new hit play The Bells of West 87th. True of James, he did it marvelously, really getting into the character of the awkward poet boyfriend.
The humorous play about a dysfunctional family stars Carol Locatell as Ida, the Jewish nagging mother hiding out from her ex-husband and living with Cameron Meyer as her put upon daughter Molly. Molly, in her efforts at trying to bring peace between her mother and Robert Towers, her deaf father, Eli, living next door, sets up a series of bells so that Ida can keep track of when Eli goes out. Feeling trapped in her role as super in her parents apartment building, Molly longs to get out and finally has the courage to bring home her new boyfriend, Chris (James Marsters) to meet her ecentric parents.
The comedy ensues as Molly tries to ease this Gentile into her stereotypical Jewish family and finds she must also deal with Dagney Kerr as her sister Maxine's imminent divorce and her own feelings of suffocation.
Cameron Meyer charmed us as the frustrated daughter and Dagney Kerr played an excellent favored child.
The great sets were designed by Jeff McLaughlin and lighting by Michael Gend with costume by Susanne Klein and sound by Cricket S Myers. Michael Donovan cast the play while David Regal consulted on the magic in the show. John Freeland, Jr. was the production stage manager and assisted by Amber Bruegel.
Describing herself as a modern Neil Simon, writer Elin Hampton is well known also for her musical Who's Your Mommy? as well as numerous TV and film credits, has reunited several of the Buffy stars. Buffy fans might want to stick around for the performance on September 29, when there will be a Q & A with the cast. Her play was inspired by a friend who told her that her mother had kept track of her separated father by a series of bells. "It was so weird that I just had to write this," Hampton said. The characters were influenced by Hampton's own upbringing on the Upper West Side of New York City. For those interested in writing, she gives this advice, "Most humor comes out of character, not out of jokes. Write funny."
However, Bells is not just a Jewish story. It applies to any family with children trying to spread their wings and parents who are unable to let go. On a scale of 1-10, I gave it a 10.
The Bells of West 87th presented by Round Swamp Entertainment in association with Greenway Arts Alliance will be at the Greenway Court Theatre (544 N. Fairfax, LA 90036) until October 13, 2013. Tickets range from $34 -$50 (this price is for the ones with the post show of Q&A.) Call 323 655 7679 x100 for tickets or check out Greenway Court Theatre. While there is plenty of street parking, parking is available next door for $4.