Letters to Editor
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As most opera lovers agree, a clichéd plot is irrelevant if the music makes you fuggedaboudit. In The Gift, the music is a welcome relief from a story about five fraternity brothers who begin as shallow and distasteful, lurch through a sexually transmitted disease they all contract from Electra, a hooker, at a bachelor party, and end predictably with the serious values their two anxious weeks hanging on a diagnosis cough up.
The author is Robbie Fox, who gave us So I Married An Axe Murderer. Music and lyrics are by his cousin Steve Fox, for whom lets hope this was a learning experience. A highlight is the very enjoyable ballad "I Was Made For You", sung by Robert Torti.
Torti plays Don, the movie mogul, with an expert jaded finesse. His mobile features project world weariness alleviated, with an effort, by a flashing smile.
James Barbour, Broadway-bound this fall in Jane Eyre, brings a fine voice and gawky comic relief to Travis, the country music star experiencing a drought.
Bankrupt Mark, the bridegroom with father problems, is played by Burke Moses. John Kassir plays Teddy, perennially discontented college boy and family man. Lance, the Washington Post reporter and poster-boy husband and father who is struggling to keep that closet door closed on his homosexuality, is given substance by Larry Poindexter. All have a sense of the angst in their characters and the chops to leaven them with sly humor.
Angelically beautiful Alicia Witt is underused as Elektra with a light singing voice that shows promise.
Harry Murphy provides grown-up ballast with skilled versatility in multiple father roles. Luann Aronson and Shanola Gralyn Hampton play assorted girlfriends with as much diversity as they can muster from the limited characterizations.
The polished production is directed by Andy Fickman.
Book by Robbie Fox
Music and Lyrics by Steve Fox
Directed by Andy Fickman
Cast (in alphabetical order): James Barbour, John Kassir, Burke Moses, Larry Poindexter, Robert Torti, Alicia Witt; with Luann Aronson, Shanola Hampton, Harry S. Murphy
Set Design: Bradley Kaye
Lighting Design: Rand Ryan
Costume Design: Dick Magnanti
Sound Design: Bernard Fox
Musical Direction: David Manning
Running Time: Two and a half hours with intermission
Tiffany Theatre, 8352 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, (310) 289-2999
Opened 7/15/2000; closing
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock July 27.