La Jolla Playhouse Opens New Season with the World-Premiere Production "The Ballad of Johnny and June"

A Trampled Love Story Rooted in a Popular and Beloved Soundtrack 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Christopher Ryan Grant and Patti Murin in THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY AND JUNE; photo by Rich Soublet II.
Oh, I love me some Reese Witherspoon, and curiously, Walk the Line is one of her movies that I have yet to see. Life is weird sometimes and when you are in the performing arts, even more so. That movie released almost 20 years ago could be one of the main references for country superstar couple June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash. In the case of La Jolla Playhouse's season opener, The Ballad of Johnny and June, a bio-like piece with music that includes the couple's only son's perspective on how their relationship happened once both of them were famous, with kids, and partners... and the journey of that combined fame with its ups and downs until the end. 

The book is by Robert Cary and Playhouse Director Emeritus, Des McAnuff who also directed the piece, music, and lyrics by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and others with orchestrations and arrangements by Lisa LeMay. The visual component of this production is great, carefully crafted with Robert Brill's scenic design that reminded me of both a boxcar and a wooden hangar that opened and closed. Curiously, the colors are earthy browns, ambers, and yellows just like Sarafina Bush's costume design used for practically all of the characters, except for Cash who frequently wore black. I loved that because the earthy colors give it that country look and the contrast between the browns and the black contrasts Johnny and June, nicely accentuated by Sean Nieuwenhuis's projections.

Christopher Ryan Grant is on point as Johnny Cash with the attitude and mannerisms all the way to how the singer stood and held the guitar. Van Hughes plays an adult John Carter Cash who also serves as narrator guiding the audience through Johnny's beginnings with his family as well as his mother June, going in and out of the story to insert himself in the narrative. This dynamic might be confusing because the timeline goes back and forth, but I found it entertaining just like when any of us talks about a parent's life in a reunion, that is how this piece felt. Like a reunion where stories are shared along with music, laughs, and mixed feelings. 

The cast of La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere production of THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY AND JUNE; photo by Rich Soublet II.
Patti Murin made June Carter Cash her own giving a nice combination that balanced her histrionic personality with the country singer's flare resulting in a spunky, and very pleasant character that -only based on interviews I have seen while growing up and the reference of June I had in my mind-, I almost liked more. Alberto “Albee” Alvarado's wig design had a variety that was natural and fitting.

I felt that June's ending was sort of abruptly placed and did not have the same setdown as the Johhny or John Carter characters. Seeing the glass half full, this lent a nice dynamic for me and my row-mates as we googled the facts during the intermission so we could conclude better. 

There is an orchestra in the back dressed in all black with fabulous musicians with Ron Melrose in the music supervision along with Conductor Lisa LeMay also on the keyboard, Joe Payne, and Lorraine Hussey on guitar, Ken Dow on bass, Kevin Dow on drums, and Joe Harris on the trumpet with actors also playing instruments, Maddie Shea Baldwin as June's sister “Anita,” Paula Leggett Chase as “Carrie,” Drew Wildman Foster as “Carl Smith/Jack Cash/Marshall Grant,” Gabriella Joy as “Vivian,” Bart Shatto as “Ray Cash/Sam, Phillips/W.S. Holland,” and Correy West as “Luther Perkins/Rip Nix,” which gives the musical aspects of the piece an organic, natural feel nicely placed and landed by Peter Fitzgerald's sound design that was clear and with the right power that allowed for songs like Jackson, Folsom Prison Blues, and the controversial Ring of Fire, and the title song written for this show The Ballad of Johnny and June”, go smoothly like butter.

Carter and Cash's relationship came from creativity, singing, and the working relationship, turned affair, turned marriage and family, seasoned with addiction and trips to jail. For people who lived through the sixties and seventies, this will be a cool glance through those memories, and for those who did not get to experience those times, learning about them through the stage, is also a very cool glance that encompasses all sorts of feelings that are not only fueled by the story itself, but by the creative elements in the production like Amanda Zieve's lighting design that matched the sets colors along with the wardrobe adding this live concert feel to the theatre space that kept the boards essence.

Because of the googling during intermission, row-mates and I caught that it seems Cash was not fair between his daughters from his first marriage and his son with June. Hopefully, this production will approach all the Cash siblings. That's the human -not the critic- view on the matter.

What the musical did illustrate clearly, was the love the couple had for each other until the end. Currently playing until July 7, for performance times and ticket process please click here

"It is not about justice, it is about revenge"

 North Coast REP gets golden with Lerner & Loewe's CAMELOT

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

(L-R) Brian Krinsky, Jered McLenigan, Lauren Weinberg - Photo Aaron Rumley

Sometimes during all this hullabaloo of theatre, going to see productions, to have what I saw marinate to then write about it, I think of all the wonderful things that have been done before and even during my time, that I am not aware of, like Lerner & Loewe's CAMELOT for example. Yes, of course, I heard about King Arthur in school, but my solid reference growing up was Disney's The Sword in the Stonelol. It's one of my favorite movies btw. So, when I went to see the production at NCR, I did so in full-blank mode.

If you come around often and read the views here, you know I am very particular about what I like/love. One of those things is a good Director's Note in the show's program and CAMELOT's director Jeffrey B. Moss shared a wonderful note with interesting insight . Post-show research, I learned about former U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy referencing the show and comparing King Arthur to JKF, to then see that the leads in the original cast in the sixties were Robert Goulet, Julie Andrews, and Richard Burton, like what?! Surely that was an absolute treat and, I share this because there is a gratitude that comes along when theatres produce a classic and in this particular case, with a cast like this, most of them in their Solana Beach debut which makes it more exciting because it is always good to see new faces on the stage. 

CAMELOT saw the stage in 1960, adapted from British writer T. H. White's novel The Once and Future King, with music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics, and a book by Alan Jay Lerner. The story references how young Arthur, nicknamed "wart", forgot his cousin's sword, and when going back to get it, he finds one in a stone that he pulls with minimum effort making him, the new king of Britain. In the first act, an adult King Arthur (Jered McLenigan) has been schooled, guided, and advised by Merlyn (Jason Heil) a powerful wizard who lets Arthur know that he will vanish and to be prepared as there are quite several things coming like his arranged marriage with Guenevere (Lauren Weinberg), meeting the avid swordsman Lancelot (Brian Krinsky), and also meeting Mordred (Nick Apostolina) someone who will unravel a tacit dynamic that might have been better left alone... Matthew Novotny's lighting design incorporated a hefty variety that teased a couple of characters in the first act and looked perfect as it pumped the suspense. Marty Burnett's set design with wooden-like floors and stone walls making it very medieval-looking, was divided into two small floors that actors would come up and down from that also made for good entrances and exits. Movotny's design was playful by sectioning characters' lighting apart from one another in a single scene and also using a tracker light that followed the leads when delivering resolving lines that contoured the performances adding thickness to the feeling of the experience.

Jered McLenigan & Jason Heil - photo. by Aaron Rumley 

Jason Heil's performance as Merlyn is as magical as the wizard himself and I wish more lines were written for this part as the intonation and traits were all there graciously characterized by Elisa Benzoni's costume design and Grace Wong as the assistant costume designer that included a red velvet cloak with matching beret, along with Peter Herman's hair & wigs design illustrating Merlyn's iconic long white beard and hair accessorized by a wooden cane, courtesy of Audrey Casteris's props made for a true vision and perfect introduction to the show. Guenevere's hair design with different do's that included long braids and hair partially down, truly embraced the character's look. 

Benzoni definitely brought it up a couple of notches as the costume design was meticulously detailed combining different materials into a single piece like for the Arthur character, having pleather puffed-up sleeves with wool for the rest of the garment, alternating different pieces and cuts that made it visually appealing. For Guenevere, also alternating materials and colors like green velvet and red velvet long dresses with triangular-shaped sleeves, adding satin to the mix that just emphasized the royal eyeful. This is turning into a piece dedicated to the wardrobe design but really, it deserves its own elaboration. It is tough to pick a piece of wardrobe for this production but one of my favorites was definitely Lancelot's vest-like top about his knight's uniform made out of a buttoned silver material that included a folded neck accessorized with a harness belt that made it very chique. Everybody looked amazing, fitting the story with the accessories on point.

Brian Krinsky (Lancelot) - Photo by Aaron Rumley

The cast performed the 17sh song list with new orchestrations by Steve Orich aligned and with harmony. Music director Daniel Lincoln was tucked in stage left also playing the piano live. There are musicians listed in the program but I am unsure if they were playing live or if there was a recording of their playing that Daniel managed during the performance. 

Lauren Weinberg has a beautifully trained voice that delivered melodic notes in songs like The Simple Joys of Maidenhood and the first Camelot reprise. She is also witty and feisty as the queen having great rapport with Jered McLenigan and Brian Krinsky. McLenigan's performance as Arthur truly delivered the humanity and conflict around the character's position. Krinsky is strong and intentioned as Lancelot with a potent, thundering voice that at least in the performance that I saw, did not need a microphone as his lavalier was maybe too close to his mouth and probably not fully modulated and/or calibrated as some of his notes, although on point, went through the mic clipped and fuzzy. Even though it was a bit distracting, it definitely did not pull from his performance. It is tricky sometimes to perform a musical that includes powerful notes in a small space. Matt Fitzgerald's sound design punctually wrapped all the bytes in place which made for both the spoken word in the dialogues to match the singing with the music. 

I do have a performance note for the day I was at the theatre where I sat in the second to last row close to the stage manager's booth and, I do not if it was either the manager or assistant stage manager but half their body was sticking out of the window for the two acts and THAT was very distracting. It is live theatre and things happen I guess.

CAST OF CAMELOTJacob Caltrider, Eban Rosenzweig, Jered McLenigan, Noah Weibel,
 Nick Apostolina (Back Row)Scott Hurst Jr. Brian Krinsky, Lauren Weinberg, Jason Heil,
 Elias Wygodny- Photo by Aaron Rumley 

Jeffrey B. Moss's direction showed the emphasis on each of the characters' intentions with marked mannerisms and strong glances. I also appreciated some of the silent pauses which gave air to the flow of the story allowing for the time to resonate. I love it when an actor can provoke a chill with just a head turn and Nick Apostolina is one of those actors with an "if looks can kill" flare to histrionism that is just exciting. The knights of the Round Table Jacob Caltrider (Sir Dinadan), Scott Hurst Jr., (Sir Lionel), and Elias Wygodny (Sir Sagramore) were charming and engaging with a sturdy delivery that enchanted audiences. The cherry on top was definitely Noah Weible as Tom of Warwick who with a brief participation won over the audience's hearts giving sense to the message of the story and definitely closing it out with a golden broche. 

CAMELOT not only involves a story about power in the monarchy and ruling a country. This story goes deep into the different layers surrounding love, its meaning, and how that comes through when challenges arise.

Currently playing until July 7th. For ticket prices and performance times, please click here

Class, Discrimination, and Life's Unexpected Turns are Portrayed in Scripps Ranch's Latest Production:

Vanity Fair. Currently Playing Until June 16 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Mashun Tucker, Dagmar Krause Fields, Mikaela Rae Macias, Parth Kichloo, Sara Blanche Hayes, Justin Lang and Alyssa Anne Austin. Photo Ken Jacques

I have not had the chance to read William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair but, by the looks of Kate Hamill's adaptation for the stage, it seems like it is a juicy one. The typical European story for the American audience or well, novela containing the good rich girl and the poor orphaned one who are friends as kids and then grow up to see what trials life has for them. In the play, Amelia Sedley (Mikaela Macias) is the one who comes from money, and Becky Sharp (Alyssa Anne Austin) comes from "misfortune". The story starts with the Manager or narrator played by Dagmar Krause Fields explaining the Vanity Fair and prefacing what is about to happen with two women who just graduated from "Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies" where money obviously played a role. Pinkerton favored Amelia and looked down on Becky. After their studies, Amelia will go back to her father (Parth Kichloo) and brother Jos (Sara Blanche Hayes) while Becky is set to be a governess in a couple of months but, until that happens, she will be staying with Amelia. As soon as they arrive, Becky sets eyes on Jos to start climbing up all the ladders but Amelia's boyfriend George (Mashun Tucker) sees right through Becky as she does him, and shoos the poor girl away. Mashun definitely performed a good scene there and Sara had good moments too that reflected the tenderness of the character as well as an internal struggle that I could not quite grasp. George is good friends with William Dobbin (Justing Lang) who falls in love with Amelia as soon as he meets her. While doing her governess job, Becky meets Rawdon Crawley (Parth Kichloo), and they become an item that is practically up to no good swindling people through card games and bets. Both Becky and Amelia become pregnant by their significant others and as time passes during the Napoleonic wars, lives and fortunes are lost, destiny's turn, and truths are revealed. 

Dagmar Krause Fields and Alyssa Anne Austin. Photo Ken Jacques

I appreciated Jacquelyn Ritz's director's note on the program where she shared that this had been in the works since 2019 and how much feeling she has for the work. This is the first production I have seen of Vanity Fair, so I have no point of comparison with other versions of it. Ritz's direction reflects the care that went into the cast and works well as an ensemble that flows, definitely echoing several creative conversations about each character. 

In the performance that I saw, the second act worked way better than the first as there were some missed lines and thumps. There are also a couple of brief musical and dancing moments that I do not think worked. The singing was ok and the choreography was performed in place but it looked out of place within the story's progression. 

Another thing I appreciated, was the closeness to the audience in some scenes with some of the characters, and, the cool side of that was that each actor handled it with their own personality whether it was joking with people in the first row or even adlibbing. That definitely added to the experience regardless of where the audience's seat was as Dennis Floyd's set design had seating areas close to the audience where actors delivered lines and monologues that were beautifully lit by both Omar Ramos and Mashun Tucker's lighting design. Because the space is small and there was plenty of movement, the lighting did set the blocking nicely. Duane McGregor's props were nicely tucked in a theatre balcony-type setting where the actors would pick up or put away.

Mikaela Rae Macias. Photo Ken Jacques

Both Alyssa Anne and Mikaela Rae -who recently graduated college-, are well-set in their characters and deliver strong portrayals. Mikaela as the tender, in-love-with-love, innocent, sheltered Amelia, and, Alyssa as Becky, using the few tools she has to survive in life, alone with no one to help or protect her. She also has wordy lines that are performed right. Justin Lang has brief participations but his lines are wordy too. Aside from thinking he should book a couple of shampoo commercials or at least some hair care tutorials, Lang brought it once again to the stage and got the audience to root for William Doblin.  Dagmar Krause Fields is charming as the manager and a tad devious. She also incarnates the role of Lord Steyne who is interested in Becky and they have a strong scene charged with tension that was resolved well. Parth Kichloo did a good Rawdon with purpose and had nice chemistry with Alyssa. 

Costume design is always fun in period pieces and Marcene Drysdale's options with taffetas and satins for the ladies along with uniforms and suits for the men made for a nice fit.

Vanity Fair is entertaining and wraps the messaging behind classes, discrimination, and life's unexpected turns. How do we deal when we learn and how sometimes we stumble with the same stone over and over. 

Currently playing until June 16. For ticket prices and show times please click here

"He is dead and gone lady./ He is dead and gone..."

The Pulitzer-Winning Fat Ham Takes the San Diego Stage at The Old Globe

m as Opal, Xavier Pacheco as Tio, Tian Richards as Larry, and Ṣọla Fadiran as Juicy in Fat Ham, 2024. Photo by Rich Soublet II.
There have been various pop takes on Shakespeare's Hamlet throughout the years like Mel Gibson's film version which there's a reference to that I love, in the movie Clueless, and of course, The Lion King. Oh, and now that I think about it, this is the second time I have mentioned Clueless for something this year, and I am not ashamed lol.

Anyway, I preface this for you to come along for the ride in my brain as I share my thoughts on what Playwright James Ijames did with Fat Ham which premiered in 2021 as a filmed production, to then go Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in 2022, and debut on Broadway the following year. The play was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play. Ijames uses Shakespeare's Hamlet as a mold to take off into another ethos to expose generational trauma, abuse, acceptance, ownership, and other familial and life matters within a Black family. Let me start by saying that the title Fat Ham, is fantastic. Second, this play was not one hour and 50 minutes as advertised, it was two hours and five minutes with NO intermission, which even though I love one acts and no intermissions, this length of a piece without one, is sacrilege. Especially with The Globe audience, like come on guys, read the room! People would constantly be getting up and out, coming back in and it was just too much and too distracting as actors were coming in and out through the theatre as well. 

Tian Richards as Larry in Fat Ham, 2024. Photo by Rich Soublet II.

After my logistics peeve, continuing with the story, Juicy (Ṣọla Fadiran), is prepping the family's backyard for a BBQ celebration regarding his mother Tedra's (Felicia Boswell) nuptials with Juicy's uncle, Rev (Ethan Henry). Juicy's friend Tio (Xavier Pacheco) is helping with the decor when both he and Juicy in separate turns see the ghost of Pap (also Ethan Henry), Juicy's dad who passed away recently, while incarcerated. Ethan Henry plays with the audience who were both startled and marveled by Skylar Fox's Illusion Design that involved haze, flying tablecloths, and disappearing bodies cleanly and creatively that uplifted the tale. Pap's ghost tells Juicy that while he was in jail, Rev, had him killed and he needs to avenge him. Juicy is already not a big fan of Rev who is vile and abusive, so he aims to plot the killing, and during the BBQ where family friends Rabby (Yvette Cason) and her adult children Opal (m) and Larry (Tian Richards) join, he organizes a charade activity where one of the guesses is something around "The reverend killed the cook", referencing the play within the play that Hamlet orchestrates to expose Claudius. There is also karaoke during the family gathering with a hilarious rendition of Crystal Waters - 100% Pure Love by Felicia Boswell, followed by an incredible interpretation of Radiohead's Creep by Ṣọla Fadiran which was absolute perfection and brought the house down.

Just like the play within a play, this production has the sound within the sound as the actors are miked of course but for the karaoke, they use a handheld, and for a minute, I felt I needed to cover my ears because the Globe theatre is technically small for that kind of decibels but, Mikaal Sulaiman's sound design pulled through flawlessly and turned the theatre into a concert venue that made audiences clap and sing along. Juicy is trying to embrace his queerness and with that, a series of confessions come through from the rest of the people at the gathering. Half of the characters do not die in Fat Ham as they do in Hamlet. The outcome here is a very colorful and musical one where the venue is semi-transformed once more into a dance floor/nightclubish scene where Tian Richards shines bright flaunting vogue moves along with Bradley King's lighting design that came alive being a stellar role in this production, beaming with purples and pinks that were animated and touched every corner of the house. King's lighting is one of the best I have seen this year, as it is beautiful creation that made for beautiful art. Sideeq Heard's direction brings all these elements together to flow as there is singing, monologues, silent moments, tension, and anger both onstage and for the audience which then is relieved with the comedy.

The cast of Fat Ham, 2024. Photo by Rich Soublet II.

Regarding the play itself, after the ghost's appearance, the following 40 minutes made me very uncomfortable and not in a good way. Except for the Juicy character who I considered to be flawless as well as Ṣọla Fadiran's performance that was articulate with clean diction, intentioned, and totally landed. Interpretations and acting aside, as I consider Felicia Boswell and Ethan Henry did the job, the mom and uncle characters were loud and obnoxious caricatures that although I think I get the intention Ijames wrote them with, it definitely did not sit with me. This dynamic reminded me of the movie Black Fiction and the play within the play in Alice Childress's Trouble in Mind, which poses the question behind the intention, who did James Ijames write this play for? himself? white people? Black people as a gag? or really, just because. Maybe all of the above? I am truly curious. 

After the uncomfortable, the remainder of the play brings many laughs, and Xavier Pacheco as Tio who is kind of Hamlet's Horatio, takes a lot of them. Pacheco is also great with wonderful timing, aware of the house, and very playful which alleviates some of the tension. The BBQ guests Rabby (Yvette Cason) and her adult children Opal (m) and Larry (Tian Richards) also bring comedic relief yet, their participation is brief. I would have liked to see more of them. m's Opal is darkly funny with an amazing voice that is modulated well. Yvette Cason is also very funny and manages good timing. Even though there is sort of a coming out, love confession with Larry, I too felt that to be brief and not fully baked. Tian Richards is redeemed histrionically at the end of the play, but not Larry.

The cast of Fat Ham, 2024. Photo by Rich Soublet II.

The production visually, is stunning. Maruti Evans's scenic design with wallpaper, layers, and depth made for the perfect setting that transforms at the end with an impressive reveal, and again, that lighting was delicious as was the sound. Dominique Fawn Hill's costume design is detailed and truly brings out each of the character's personalities which for Opal, I would have wanted to see the true personality after the confession that takes place. I noticed the shoe changing with Rabby from heels to flats and I considered that to be on point. I want Juicy's black overalls in my closet as well as Tedra's top.

Again, as much as I love not having an intermission, this play needs one for everybody's sake. To take it all in, breathe, marinate, and then go back in to take it home. The contrasting glamorous finale is a palate cleanser for the first part, however, the awkward experience did not get an exemption.

Go check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Fat Ham is currently playing until June 23. There will be post-show forums on Wednesday, June 12, and Wednesday, June 19 (evening performance). An open-caption performance will take place on Saturday, June 15 at 2:00 p.m.

For ticket prices and showtimes please click here. 

San Diego Playwright Tori Rice's Play "Devil in a Box" Shows the Domino Effect of a Family Broken by Addiction

Playing Until this Sunday, June 9th at Onstage Playhouse

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti 

Brey Laqou and Jenna Pekny. Photo by Daren Scott

In this consumerism era where everything is fast and if it lasts more than a minute, attention is lost... In a world where the competition for share and reach is aggressive and even subconscious, it is good to have a grounding root that lands and brings you back to your breakeven point. The grounding for me this week was Onstage Playhouse with their world premiere play Devil in a Box by local playwright Tori Rice. Grounding because seeing something by a local playwright and feeling where the inspiration and reasoning came from to put this story on paper and then have it come to life on the stage, is refreshing. It resembles seeing a play-by-play through the play if that makes sense. Sometimes, or even most times, it only makes sense in my head but sharing it, is refreshing too.

Devil in a Box was born as a short 10-minute play in 2019, and scaled to a full 60-ish minute story with no intermission that takes place in a church daycare illustrated to great detail by set designer Duane McGregor, from the playing pads to the little tables, the stuffed animals, painted walls and a colorful ladder where actors could hang from. -McGregor can design any nursery if you ask me-. There is also a screen to the right (stage left) where Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland is playing before the show starts. That screen folds up and turns into a booth for the first scene, greatly lit by Jason Chody, which has a hotline volunteer played by Kimberly Weinberger; she is kind of bored and going about her business when she receives a call from Jay (Brey Laqou), who broke into the daycare and is about to shoot and consume a substantial amount of drugs. The volunteer tries to steer him in the opposite direction but Jay multitasks and as he gets high, we start seeing episodes of his timeline. Bren (Jenna Pekny), Jay's little sister appears and they play. Bren wants to be like Amelia Earhart and fly planes. Charlie (Jaden Guerrero) then breaks into the daycare bringing the goods and they start plotting to get more drugs. Scene shifting takes place with Jay as an adult and, it was confusing at first but then it all started to make painful sense. A car accident with an alcoholic parent is the epicenter and everything trickles down from there. McGregor's lighting benefits the shifts clearing and pacing the changes while sectioning the set design that uses practically all the space from right to left.

Brey Laqou, Jaden Guerrero, and Jenna Pekny. Photo by Daren Scott

Onstage regular Jaden Guerrero is growing up! We have seen him mature and claim the stage space gradually throughout his performances in the different plays. Guerrero as Charlie gives ecstatic and lost soul/cause vibes rhythmically. Weinberger in her Onstage debut, also plays a waitress and the longtime family friend Val. It is exciting to see actors work in different stages across town. I last saw Kimberly in New Fortune Theatre Company's production of  Public Enemy. She has a mighty stage presence mixed with a layered tenderness that deepens her work. Brey Laqou and Jenna Pekny also in their Onstage debuts, have great stage chemistry. I just came back from a theatre convention for infancy and youth and their performances made me see the interpretation of kids, in a different light as I heard for over 10 days, the popular conversation of having adults play kids versus kids play kids... both actors did a wonderful job as it did not look fake, forced, or even creepy. The interpretations were natural and they flowed between their adult personas. Jenna is adorable as Bren and Brad Dubois's costume design added to the vision with a cute summer dress, yellow stockings, and a matching black vest with black booties. My favorite was the hair choice with bowed braided, half pigtails completing the frame nicely. Brey carries the weight of the story and is strong as Jay with an earnest performance that involves many feelings and actions that were taken care of well, for example, shooting up heroin. Not an easy task with an unblemished execution that reflected James P. Darvas's direction that was precise and consistent having all four cast members flow throughout the story.

Tori Rice's writing of this play reflects its birth as a short to have added scenes to the story. It is not fully baked yet and needs a little more time in the creative oven as the message is powerful and is accentuated at the end using the screen to show a compilation of celebrities who have overcome addiction including our very own, James P. Darvas. Even though  Kimberly's character Val sums it up, I would have liked to see more of Jay's story and his time with Bren along with their friendship with Charlie and his sister. They deserve it. 

Currently playing at the Chula Vista venue until this Sunday, June 9th. For ticket prices and showtimes, please click here.

Tori is the co-host of the podcast Hey Playwright which you can listen to here