Pictured is Sam Zeller (Bugs) Brandon Michael Perkins (Steven/Johnny) and members of the ensemble.
If you like musicals -- and musical comedy, great voices, exceptional lyrics, outstanding sets and costumes with an original story by legendary British playwright Ray Cooney, this whole theatrical experience is worth the drive to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in Redondo Beach, presented by the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities.
The qualities of the performances are as good, if not better than musicals I have seen on Broadway. Actually, the play will end here on March 2, and then go to London and then on to Broadway for it’s debut there.
The story is compelling in its fantasy of being in 2008 London and being in Chicago in 1929 -- at the same time. Steven Tancred (Brandon Michael Perkins) is an exceptional musical comedy singer/actor and works for Mr. Pilsworth (Robert Machray). Of course, he is about to marry the bosses daughter, Barbara (Jennifer Malenke), who is a lawyer and also works for her father.
Trying to kick the smoking habit, Steven goes to a hypnotist, Dr.Patel, (Danny Bolero), and while under the spell of his swinging pendulum, Steven is regressed back in time to l929 when Bugs Moran (Sam Zeller) and Al Capone (David R. Gordon) are taking over the rackets in Chicago.
There is comedy afoot as Steven goes back to Barbara in 2008, and talks about what’s happening in l929 Chicago. As expected, he falls for Bugs’s girlfriend Ruby, knowing that if Bugs finds out he will kill them both. What’s a couple in love supposed to do? Sing-- and sing they do! The musical direction was by Dennis Castellano who also conducts the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities orchestra.
The set design by Christopher Beyries changed often and easily, taking you forward and backward in time -- in no time! The costume design by Karen L. Cornejo gave life to all of the characters and more drama to the play.
The adorable Millicent Martin plays Mrs. Emily Clarke, a widow, whose lovely home is in the center of a shopping center development and Steven’s job is to convince her to sell. Oh no! Will our hero save the day? Will Barbara be jealous of Ruby in l929? This is a duel role by Misty Cotton, who also plays Linda. Who’s Linda? And who does Steven love? Ruby, Linda or Barbara? Will Barbara die for Steven, Will Ruby? Will Barbara wear a white wedding dress? Will she marry Jeff (Kevin Symons)? All questions will be answered when you see the show.
All I can say is it all works out and everyone is totally happy! Even I was happy when I left the performance with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. This theater is also terrific and the acoustics are great. To get there from Los Angeles, just take the 405 South, past Rosecrans to Inglewood Avenue, right, then right on Manhattan Blvd. and follow the many signs. There is free parking and a terrific show awaiting you. Call for tickets at 310 372 4477.