ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The book is by Anna Hamilton Phelan who wrote the screenplay and preserves the acerbic feisty personality of Rusty (Michelle Duffy), Rocky's mother, and the conflict between her and the son she alternately over-protects and alienates with her drug use. As if Rocky (Allen E. Read) didn't have enough problems of his own—, not just medically but from moving from school to school as a result of his waitress mother's peripatetic life. Nevertheless, he manages to make the top 5% of his class and wins over his new classmates with his humorous retelling The Iliad to the class and academically coaching the football jocks for money.
Phelan has structured her story well and the Playhouse has supported her with its as usual excellent production values: a gorgeous scenic design by Robert Brill with a rotating central platform that takes us from Rocky's room to the classroom to the doctor's office to the camp for the blind where Rocky gets a summer counseling job. It's complemented by David Weiner's lighting design that brings California sunlight inside and Maggie Morgan's costumes, mostly 1970's biker clothes, jeans, leathers and vests, reminiscent of Hair. Would that the same could be said of the score by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil which alternates between pleasant and period-appropriate bombastic rock. No showstoppers, just one mid-show burst of applause for Rusty's pirate costume which sports a parrot on the shoulder.
Richard Maltby, Jr. directs in a conventional style which, like the music, doesn't bring anything unique or stirring to such unusual subject matter. That leaves it up to the cast and they bring it home, starting with Read's powerful and touching performance as Rocky. Duffy brings Rusty alive with a defensive toughness layered over pain and love. Also effective are Greg Evigan as a buff Gar; Michael Lanning as Dozer, the leader of The Tribe; Sarah Glendening as Diana, the blind girl who falls in love with Rocky; and Diane Delano as Rocky's wonderful gravel-voiced teacher, Ms. Mendez. They sweep the mustiness under the wheels of Rocky's gleaming motorcycle and a boy who came so close to making his dreams come true deserves no less.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide