"Nice Tits" at Alliance Repertory Company

Contrary to what one might think upon hearing the title- or possibly stumbling over the web sites of the same name doing an on-line search- 'Nice Tits' is a production that contains nothing sordid and everything that is thought-provoking about the feminine in women's lives, and thinking pink is easy at the World Premiere at the Alliance Repertory Company Theater in Glendale, California. 

Royana Black in character, chatting up a male friend to ferret out his ideas about her beauty

Created and directed by Kristen Cloke, Kelly Hill, and Erin Underwood, and named for a playful remark by one woman involved in the production, the play is a tender and honest showcase for sixteen women speaking about something to do with their breasts- and so to their individual female experiences.  Some of this talent includes Deb Hiett (of ABC's 'Desperate Housewives'), Robin McDonald ('Kitchen Confidential'), Jeanette Dudley ('But, Seriously Folks') and Liva Trevino ('Curb Your Enthusiasm').

While the title may elicit responses varying from 'How vulgar!' to "Isn't that some porno site on the web?', this is not performance art or experimental theater; this is a warmer and more inviting event reminiscent of 'Vagina Monologues' that goes a step further in engaging the audience.  Thinking pink comes into play because of the universal symbol for breast cancer- the pink ribbon.  The company promotes breast cancer awareness, self-exams, and disseminates information provided by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.  Self-exam cards are generously distributed before entering the theater, and a public service aim is immediately evident.

Pink is a decorative theme, too.  Outside the quaint theater, a unique patio is graced by pink satin table covers set aglow by dainty star lights and adorned with bunches of pink long-stem roses.  That color scheme is picked up in this cozy theater featuring a unique reverse entryway and delicate paper lanterns by dressing the stage with two red wingback chairs surrounded by a pink satin backdrop.  The audience is immediately made comfortable. 

Elena Evangelo in character, dreaming up new ideas to improve her bustine

The show is divided into 22 vignettes written and performed by the cast.  Seven of these are shorts performed by Elana Evangelo most nights, but on the night of this review by perky understudy Lee D'Angelo (TV/film credits with "JAG," "Law and Order," and "The Experience Box").  Spun off from her opening appearance entitled 'The Grading System' (during which she bemoans her small chest and contrasts the 'A, B, C' school grading system to the cup measurement of a woman's bra), the shorts provide superb comic relief in between monologues by others that may be serious or thought provoking.  This character appears time and again throughout the show trying out her latest hilarious discoveries of methods of increasing her bust size.  Her efforts are both laughable and laudable, and her treatment of silicon breast implants is memorable.

Laugh out loud funny scenes include Deb Hiett's bourbon swilling character in 'You Do What You Have to Do' where she describes flashing the family doctor to ensure her daughter's heart surgery will be performed in such a way as to allow the child's breasts to develop in a natural manner; Catherine Kamei's 'Tit to Tit' depicting an aspiring actress on a casting call for a body double; and Royanna Black's zippy 'Underwire' during which she elicits compliments from men about her breasts

Endearing scenes include Livia Trevino's ethnic character in 'Chi Chis' who reminisces about long-deceased female relatives and missing their loving, big-chested embraces; Candice (CJ) Hincks' 'Groovy Ody' in which the character celebrates a birthday and reminisces about getting movie roles because she had a brain and not necessarily a big bust; and Erin Underwood's 'They Make Swatch in Switzerland, Don't They' during which a young girl plays with a Ken and Barbie doll and tries to make sense of gender roles.

Sobering were Bettina Adger's 'Sagging Boobs' depicting a young woman trying but never quite managing to keep her body in the manner pleasing to other people; Annie Wyndham's character in 'Traverse City, Michigan' who reminisces about having been sexually abused as a child; Kelly Hill's 'Second Base' where her character deals with her emotions are she experiences her first teenage kiss-and-tell games (and a bit more than she might have anticipated); and Jeanette Dudley's  'Mammogram' which reminds us all of the importance of breast self-examination and early detection of breast cancer.

Debb Hiett and Catharine Karr on the set

Kristen Cloke sweetly closes the evening with 'Per Form'- her memories of breast development from childhood through motherhood, bringing along old bras for show and tell.

Highly recommended for girls' night out for women of any age, 'Nice Tits' is sure to evoke some thoughtful conversation and is not to be missed- even if one has to work very hard to get past the title.  Performances run through December 17th.  Catch it while you can!

'Nice Tits' created and directed by Kristen Cloche, Kelly Hill, and Erin Underwood

Produced by Lee Tangelo, Emma Jacobson-Save, Carmen Molina, and Robert Suppler

Featuring:  Bettina Badger, Rosanna Black*, Ellen Buckley, Kristen Cloche, Jeanette Dudley, Elena Evangel, Deb Hyatt*, Kelly Hill, Candice J. Hicks (CJ), Catherine Kamei, Robin McDonald, Stephanie Seizer, Livid Trevino, Tiffany Turner, Erin Underwood, and Annie Wyndham. *
(* Denotes Actors Equity Association member)

Lighting Design by Brent Beath
Sound Design by Craig Ceravolo
Booth Operations:  Kathleen McNearney and Ali Taylor

Alliance Repertory Company Theater is located at 3204 West Magnolia Blvd., Burbank CA, 91505

'Nice Tits' runs through December 17th.  Shows are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7.   There will be a special Thursday performance on December 15th.

For reservations:  800/595-4849 or www.tix.com.

Copyright 2005 MDCaprario

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