In '7 Redneck Cheerleaders', we are treated to a 'fly-on-the-wall' perspective of actors playing actors playing rednecks during the rehearsal process of putting up a play. We get to witness what happens when you combine eight nut-job actors (the characters in the play, not the actors playing the actors, of course) during long hours of rehearsal over an extended period of time. When they are brought together into each others worlds, it gets very personal and sometimes very intimate as their lives onstage and off get intertwined. We get to see their true personalities expressed, life imitating art, lots of fun and wickedly sexy developments.
This funny farce delighted actors and people in the biz, because of familiar scenarios and inside jokes. It also introduces people outside the biz to the inner world of the typically narcissistic actor's interaction and developments within the context of a theatre production. This play marks Amy French's debut production as a mainstage director. Not only did Amy direct the actors playing actors, but directed two casts simultaneously, as well as directing the actor playing the director directing the actors playing actors...you get the gist. Oh' and she did it brilliantly. Amy states, 'The play is really about a bunch of misfits trying desperately to crawl out of one soul, that doesn't necessarily feel comfortable and into each other. And we are those misfits, but we are crawling out of ourselves only to crawl into characters that are heightened versions of ourselves.' Well said, Amy!
'7 Redneck Cheerleaders' is a new comedy about a first time playwright and seven Los Angeles actors embarking on the telling of the story of a young redneck boy, played impressively by Jimmy Walker Pearson, who joins the cheerleading squad to get close to a girl, despite his mother's concerns and his father's threats. Zibby Allen and Kerry Carney were fabulous as tempting precocious teen cheerleaders that end up getting very physical.
As the redneck plot thickens, so does the world of equity-waiver, where an arrogant actor/producer, played very realistically by David Fofi, a regal gay theatre veteran (Don Cesario delighted), turn the world of the theatre upside down.
And special kudos to Dylan Jones, who played Rose, the lesbian/hooker. She was a powerhouse of creative energy. She had such total commitment to her colorful character and the audience ate her up. I spoke with her afterward to get some insight on this huge talent, and found out that she is also a singer, writer and choreographer. She is developing a one-woman show that she will be presenting at the Lillian Theatre in October. That is one I will not miss!
The end of the play was the piece de resistance. It began as what I thought would be a simple cheer by the three cheerleaders, but it ended up with the entire cast doing a choreographed number that had the entire audience enthralled! People lept to their feet in uproarious applause in a well-deserved standing ovation. It was simply delicious.
This world premiere was written by Louis Jacobs, who also plays the director in the play. Thank you for sharing this "inner" perspective with audiences!
The play is a production of the Elephant Theatre Company. Created in 1995, it was founded by David Fofi, who plays Brad in this production, and Don Cesario, who plays Ben. From a small space in downtown Los Angeles, their vision was to develop a new brand of quality original theatre in L.A. They continued to grow and produce the Elephant in various Hollywood venues before breaking ground on their eventual home, The Elephant/Lillian Theatres, creating four working stages. Their business, called Elephant Stageworks, oversees both venue operations and Theatre company endeavors. The Elephant Theatre company consists of 50 members and is one of the most talented and wonderful group of artists I have run across.
'7 Redneck Cheerleaders' runs from August 5 through September 10. There are two alternating casts. For times and specific dates, go to their website:
The Elephant Theatre Company
6322 Santa Monica Blvd.
Located the corner of Santa Monica and Lillian Way