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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
As Bees in Honey Drown
Equal parts scam, caper, farce and satire, Douglas Carter Beane's play presents a heroine manufactured out of such old movie templates as Rosalind Russell's Auntie Mame, Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly and Liza Minelli's Sally Bowles. We always knew That Girl was out there somewhere and the gay men and striving women she targets have been waiting for her to wave her magic wand and transform them from who they are into who they were meant to be. The fact that she seems totally unreal is totally realistic. "I'm not a mirage," says Alexa kindly. "I'm an oasis."
Beane skewers the shelf life as short as a fruit fly of an artist in a fickle consumer culture and does it with wit and flair. Alexa, the con artist born Brenda Gelb in West Reading, PA, does seem to jumpstart the careers of her victims. They never turn her in. Wyler is advised by record producer Morris Kaden to consider his fleecing "tuition." It's a wonderful part for an actress with an edge. Though Peri Gilpin has timing and panache, she doesn't have the edge yet. Chad Willett makes his bones as the gawky writer Wyler who finally takes what happens to him and builds on it under his own name. A suave quartet play all the other parts, with Cameron Watson especially solid as Mike, Iona Morris as many exotic women we'd like to see more of, David Shatraw as shady characters we'd like to steer clear of and luscious Kate Steele as the peripheral beauty no cityscape does without.
This farrago scampers over the stage of The Pasadena Playhouse under the sly humorous directorial wand of Sheldon Epps. Randy Gardell's clever costumes have such witty punctuation points as a boring brown suit wickedly chosen for Wyatt by a jealous salesman and a single black suit for Alexa throughout varied by bright magnificent shoes. Michael Gilliam lights, as best he can with the Playhouse's limited structure, Roy Christopher's marvelous scenic design which is a trip all by itself. Not only do the folding panels and revolving stages work divinely, the city backdrop and muted gleaming colors symbolize this tale that could only happen in the hive of a city where the buzz is all.
For a review of this show when it opened Off-Broadway under the auspices of the playwright's own Drama Dept go here.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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