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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings
The most dazzling musical of the year maintains the consistently high standard of The Boston Court Theatre in Pasadena. Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings may play like a graphic novel version of Milton's fallen angels crossed with Starwars but a brilliant cast, haunting music, killer costumes and intuitive direction by Michael Michetti make it soar.
The graphic novel ambiance is enhanced by anime projections that, while not consistent with the tragic warrior tone on stage, do clarify the details of the rather confusing plot. Basically it's a power struggle, fear vs. freedom. For 17 years after a battle in heaven, the children of the angels have been wingless, hidden in a dark asylum, living on their parents' promise to return for them, as reinforced mantra-like by the oldest child and self-appointed leader, Logos (Dan Callaway). His principal opponent is his petite sister, the fiercely beautiful Exstasis (Hila Plitmann), who disputes his view of the past and fights her way through a locked door to the truth. Although the initial monolog by the vanished Mother which sets up the plot is often obscured by the musical accompaniment, it's not hard to get the gist of the story.
"Libertas Imperios" (Imperial Freedom), Logos's theme song, is an obvious parallel to the contemporary world but you don't need to dig too deep. Michetti has succeeded in making Eric Whitacre's book suspenseful and Whitacre's music, with lyrics co-written by David Norona, has an involving rock-opera quality. The children live in a constant state of rage, alleviated in various interesting ways, not the least by Caleb Terray's fight choreography and Bubba Carr's dance choreography.
The cast appear to be chosen for their superb voices and physical beauty. None of them disappoint but particular pleasures are Hila Plitmann as Exstasis; Dan Callaway as Logos; Rodolfo Nieto as Gravitas, a huge idiot whose ability to steal not only drives the plot but injects humor; Kevin Odekirk as Ignis, the most lost of the lost children who morphs into Logos's sadistic enforcer, Juli Robbins as the constantly enraged and mis-named Pieta, and Daniel Tatar as the prickly lonely Fervio. Whitacre takes full advantage of their range, from opera singer Nieto's basso to Odekirk's ability to reach falsetto.
Tom Buderwitz has designed a towering many-leveled cave-like set. Steven Young's lighting design plays with the shadows in the title. Soojin Lee's rock child crossed with lost angels costumes are gorgeous, amazing and reach a rare level of creativity. As does this production.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater