Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Trouble With Words - A Song Cycle by Gregory Nabours

L - R Ryan Wagner, Jamie Mills, Julianne Donelle, Christopher Roque, Aimee Karlin, Robert Wallace

By Joe Straw

“I don’t understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as I require, neither more or less.” – Mozart in Amadeus

The Trouble With Words – A Song Cycle by Gregory Nabours now playing at the Lost Studio – is a very appealing idea.  (When you read the first sentence is it doesn’t sound right.) Words to convey an idea in song and dance are always part of the musical theatrical experience. Words and dance – dances and word – but this particular experience is about words and their effect mostly for the benefit of... What are the words I’m trying to get, the theatre audience – words and music – music and words with a lot of nice dancing and backed nicely by a six-piece band?

The trouble with “The Trouble With Words” is the words.  You can call this a Song Cycle, if that is your choice, but isn’t this really a themed musical revue?

It’s not really a musical; in the traditional sense of the word, but then again musical theatre have no boundaries?  Or do they? Do we really want a musical about words and the devilish ways they are used to make our life miserable, miserably devilish, or devily miserablelish?

And getting to the end could have had a stronger focus.  Oh, I wish I hadn’t said that.

But a musical with a strong focus or a book to help things along always helps us remember the words and we sing the tunes on our way out, spreading the word, via word of mouth, ala social media and other ways.  

In this musical there are too many words.  No, there are just a many words as required, neither more or less.  

Some of these words, I say are in jest, others are spoken very seriously.  Get what you get and move on. Ouch!  Another thing that didn’t come out right.  

The Coeurage Theatre Company presents The Trouble With Words – A Song Cycle by Gregory Nabours, directed by Patrick Pearson and Choreography by Janet Roston at The Lost Theatre on La Brea is geared to audiences in their twenties to thirties (to wet their…appetite) but I believe everyone will enjoy it especially those who enjoy communicating, verbally.

The Trouble With Words (TTWW) is a show I would see off, off, Broadway and like it very much.  (Like you’ve been to off, off, Broadway.)

And so TTWW is a show that I enjoyed from start to finish.  The problem is that it doesn’t have a start or a finish. There is no natural progression, a beginning, middle, or an end.  It just has a terrific middle.

The cast has marvelous voices.  I wasn’t a big fan of the opening number (TTWW), too much was going on and wasn’t specific as to where the show was going. Or maybe it was. But then, as the show progressed, I had a great time getting the idea of this as a venue, or skits, a showcase about words in our daily life.  

And on a serious note: There is this weird thing going in very small theatrical venue these days.  Not only here, on this night, but in other venues.  The singers five to ten feet away from you are being mic’ed.  (Is that the correct word?)

In the first solo number, “Listen” is wonderfully sung by Christopher Roque, playing a guitar – he is not more than fifteen feet away, stage left, and the sound is coming from a speaker far stage right. I can’t actually hear the singer singing.  But I do hear his voice coming from the speaker. (But, once you get beyond that you can readily enjoy the show.)  

There are a number of songs that I thoroughly enjoyed “Listen” sung by Christopher Roque, and “The Haircut” with a very cute Julianne Donelle and Robert Wallace

L - R Christopher Roque, Jamie Mills, Robert Wallace, Julianne Donelle

“Pick up Lines” was hilarious with Christopher Roque playing a Justin Timberlake character and Ryan Wagner playing a Justin Beiber character fighting for a woman with a challenge of one great pickup line after another.  Also the quest of their desires is Julianne Donelle who is delightful being pulled in opposite directions until she discovers a truth about the two lads.   

Jamie Mills sang “Here We Go Again”, another one of my favorites that seems to capture an inner truth of how everyone feels from time to time. In this Mills shows us a wider range with a rich dramatic flair to go along with the song.

Aimee Karlin

“Complimentary Brunch” is a song about a pair of couples – Aimee Karlin, Robert Wallace, Jamie Mills and Christopher Roque – who meet for lunch.  The women hate each other but their husbands want to spend quality time together and all for a little wager. There is some nice acting going on here as well with exuberant chest bumping males and self controlled women who physically want to snatch each other baldheaded.

Robert Wallace has a very nice voice and sings “Kid With A Heart On” (think what you want about the word’s title.)  Wallace sings it with a microphone, which is odd considering he is mic’ed. Nevertheless it was a very funny song.

The musicians have a number of options in this show.  They could have worn black or had a more active part of the show.  And I think Gregory Nabour, the Musical Director and pianist, needs one more number to put all this together and send us off into the night singing that tune that ties this musical together.  

Other members of this fine band are Brian Morales, Orchestrator/Reeds, Brian Cannady, Drums/Percussion/Mallets, David Lee, Guitars/Banjo, Taylor Harb, Cello/Bass and Darryl Black, Violins.

Patrick Pearson does a fine job directing.  The night sails by very quickly.  My only suggestion for a very successful night is to tie the scenes together with a word and some kind of action, a passing of the torch, for what amounts to a transition of sorts between songs, all in keeping with the theme, the trouble with words.

The Choreography by Janet Roston was superior and a lot of fun.

The Producer of this fine production is Jeremy Lelliott. A lot of time, money, effort went into the production of this show and it’s all up there on stage. Lelliott does a fantastic job and Coeurage Theatre Company has found themselves a wonderful home. 

The understudies or alternates are Eric Michael Parker, Jesse Einstein, Ben Burch, Jessica Apperson, Sammi Smith and Rebecca Mason-Wygal. They did not perform on this night.

The hard work that went into this production shows and the crewmembers that made it possible are as follows:

Abe Luke Rodriguez – Stage Manager
Susan Hallman – Lighting Design
Joeseph V. Calarco – Sound Design
Abe parker – Sound Mixer
JR Bruce – Scenic Design
Bradley Lock – Costume Design
Christopher Roque – Properties
Zack Guilder – Technical Director
Kurt Quinn – Lead Carpenter
Ryan Wagner – Graphic Design
Erica Lyn Peña – Assistant Choreographer
Ken Werther – Publicist

Run, run run! And take someone, someone who likes to play words, with friends.

Extended through April 12, 2012.

Reservations: 323-944-2165


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