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deLEARious Review - Open Fist Turns Shakespeare into deLEARious Fun - Silly Sexy Music Fun

By Joe Wehinger . Former Freelancer

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(Los Angeles, CA) July 30, 2008 - Open Fist Theater Company offers a Summer Shakespeare Festival featuring both “The Comedy of Errors” and “deLEARious”.

Bruce Green enjoys being King James I in "deLEARious"

When you think Los Angeles Musical theater, you probably think The Pantages, or The Ahmanson. Well, Phil Swann, Ron West and the Open Fist Theater Company are working hard to bring amazing musical theater into your world.  Indulge yourself.  It’s worth it.
The authors of the award-winning "The People vs. Friar Laurence: The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet" are together again to tell a riotous story of Shakespeare, King Lear, King James and...the Bible?   Great songs and a clever story guarantee a hilarious evening of fun.

When you think of a musical, what do you want?  Guys acting silly, pretty girls being sexy, sharp lyrics, and a catchy beat that moves your body.  Yes, yes, those are all elements.  But overall?  A musical is really defined by the first musical act.  Is it any good?  Does it have that razzle-dazzle?  

Mere moments into deLEARious, “New King In Town” starts up.  King James played deliciously by Bruce Green (more on him later) gets hoisted onto shoulders and carried across the stage while a cavalry of pretty girls shimmy, shake and sing.  Check, check and check!  We’ve got a winner.  The fun doesn’t stop for the next two hours.

The King’s Court

Singling out performers in this show is difficult because they’re all pretty damn good.  But as all loyal subjects must do, let’s start with the king.

Bruce Green portrays King James I and he looks like he’s having the time of his life.  More than that, he makes it all look effortless.  He sips up his dialogue like a tasty broth, half smirking throughout. He’s dangerous and evil and you want him on your good side.

Bruce Green(L) instructs Michael Churven as Sarah Buster takes notes

Michael Churven has a bit of Michael Sheen in him.  He’s a star ready to lead his first movie. He feels fresh, his eyes innocent, and his presence is both commanding and vulnerable.

Parvesh Cheena is a strong supporting character.  He’s a secret weapon that can do it all. He holds his own against the most intimidating foes but yet keeps in step during the nimblest of dance numbers.  A talent that must be seen to be appreciated.

Two for One

One of the pleasures of performing within a theater company might be the ability to play diverse characters.  Today you’re the hero, tomorrow you’re the villain. I was lucky enough to watch both of the Open Fist’s productions within twenty-four hours.  And so, any carry-over cast members were seen twice, in two very different lights.

Conor Lane.  Take a moment to appreciate him now before he’s too big to return your phonecalls. He’s willing to inject silly into anything and it adds remarkable dimension to his work.  Yet with his matinee idol looks, you just have to take him seriously. In both his roles, he pulls off what only some of the masters of his craft can do.  He absorbs himself into the role while letting an original taste of himself come through as well.

Michael Churven feels Company pressure

Sarah Buster is a delight and unfortunately is not yet fully realized.  In “The Comedy of Errors” she’s trapped behind a tongue-twister of an accent.  But she brings refreshing candor to “deLEARious” as Shakespeare’s wife.  And what a voice, speaking of which….  

Once More with Feeling

A big surprise happens early on in act one.  We meet Nicole Disson’s “Fool” and unfortunately delegate her to a background role.  She’s there, but she’s never front and center.  That’s our big mistake. She comes out for “Breaking the Rules”.  My, my, my.  She.  Owns.  It.  Remember our three rules back in paragraph four?  Well, she’s all three.  Silly, sexy and hits all the right notes.  For the next ninety minutes, you’ve always got one eye on her.  Waiting to see what she surprises you with next.

Nicole Disson sings to Ron West

After the intermission, we join Shakespeare at his house for a fight with his wife. Michael Churven and Sarah Buster, we’re in for a treat.  “There’s No Us or We Now”, Ms. Buster reveals her voice.  Amazing. She brings out her vocals like it’s nothing, when in fact it’s so much more.  Welcome to the second act.  Prepare yourself accordingly.

Now let’s touch upon Joe Zanetti.  He’s a fun guy to watch.  He accomplishes a very difficult task, whereby his character is both naïve to a fault and eventually, seemingly mindless.  Pulling this off is difficult, but doing so to a respectable angle takes work and he does so with comfort.  When he and Gloucester ( Churven again) take on “Follow The Blind” it’s all you can do not to stand up from your seat and cheer.

All That Jazz

What’s not fair is giving the players all the credit in a musical.  Yes, they must hit the notes and yes, they must bring charm and emotion.  But the mastermind behind it is far busier pulling the strings.

Phil Swann and Ron West write the music and lyrics.  And these boys, they’re good. The lyrics are fun and fast, with a hint of naughty.  The music has rhythm and pace; and keeps your body moving throughout.

deLEARious plays at the Open Fist Theater through August 29.
Showtimes Sunday at 2p and 7p, select Friday and Saturday night performances
Tickets are $20
Venue is Venue is 6209 Santa Monica Blvd.
For more information, please visit: www.openfist.org

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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