Ray Bradbury's Wisdom 2116 Review - An Age Old but Futuristic Tale

Best known for his Martin Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury is also a screen and playwright.  Despite his physical handicaps, he was there for the opening of his new play.

Bradbury: Dance Company

Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom 2116 might have been written fifty years ago to honor Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, his mentors, but the message it delivers is just as powerful today.  Directed and choreographed by Steve Josephson, produced by Ray Bradbury and Raquel Lehrman, and Pandemonium Theatre Company as well as Gallimaufry Performing Arts, the event is short, but intense.  

Presented at the Fremont Theatre in South Pasadena, the operatic musical dances its way through the story with songs as Forty Years, Marionettes, The Gift and others.  Dancers include David Stoneman (Mr. Marionette), Rob Harryman (Mr. Wycherly), Julie McLean (Bride-bot/dancer), Samantha Marcella (Dancer/Robot) , Christine Rsees (Dancer/Robot), Steve Josephson and Drew Ruesch (Groom-bot), Anthony Scarano (Dancer/Hip Hop-bot), Shanti Harter (Dancer/Robot), Sarah Mann (Dancer/ Hip hop-bot), Monica Thibodeaux (Dancer/Robot.)

Bradbury: Lisa Morrice and company

In this age old but futuristic story, a husband and wife, having been married forty years and aging together, each decide, without the knowledge of the other, to purchase android replicas of their younger selves to give to their spouses as presents.  In the vein of O Henry’s story, Gift of the Magi, each learns a lot about the other and the ways of life.  They both find they are happy with who they are and with each other, as they are and return the dolls to the Marionette Man, but not before rededicating themselves to each other. 

Besides the dancing and singing, the music by John Hoke made the evening worthwhile. 

Sarah Schuessler designed the costumes and Darlene Krantz did make up.  The simplistic yet beautiful set design was by J. W. Layne.  Stuart A Fabel did lighting.  Stage Manager was Elliot Woodruff and graphic design was Kiff Scholl.  The marionettes were produced by Czech Marionettes and the wigs by Greg Barnette.  

Bradbury: David Stoneman and company

The piece was a bit short for my taste, but it was stunningly performed and the acting and dancing were superb.  The beauty of it makes it well worth the $20 admission (seniors and students have discounts.)  The musical will run until February 27, 2010.  Show times are 8 p.m. for Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

My only complaint was the theater seating made it hard to see some of the marionettes as they danced along the stage and something should be done to bring them more to eye level of the patrons.  As a result of not seeing the dolls, it made me feel as if I was missing something.  However, there was enough seen to understand the musical.  

This is indeed a show worthy of the creative majesty of Ray Bradbury and short as it is, shines on it’s own.  

For more information and reservations call 323 960 4551 or online www.Plays411.com/raybradbury.  

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