CCAE Brings the World Premiere of Bottle Shock! The Musical to Escondido

A Truly Enjoyable Experience with Live Music and Wonderful Cast  

Taylor Renee Henderson and the company of Bottle Shock! Photo Karli Cadel
CCAE (California Center for the Arts Escondido) Theatricals is totally "the little engine that could". The love and faith this company has for its productions reflects onstage. Something that is highly appreciated as an audience member. Their current production and a world premiere, Bottle Shock! The Musical based on the 2008 movie of the same name, with a story unfolding in Napa before it was Napa in 1976.
Retired lawyer Jim Barrett (T.J. Mannix) owns Montelena, a small winery that is making them proud but the business is in debt, and keeping up is getting too expensive. Bo (Will Riddle), Jim's son, is an unfocused teenager who has no idea about anything and to quote some of the dialogue, "is as smart as a carrot". He hangs around with Gustavo (Patrick Ortiz) a young worker in the winery, aspiring winemaker, and natural sommelier as he really knows his stuff or, -should I say- grapes? soil? he practically knows it all because he was born there and it is in him. UC Davis student Samantha (Emma Degerstedt) is starting her internship at the winery but Jim is not a big fan of "lab rats" so the greeting was not as welcoming...  

The youth hangs out at the local bar "Joe's" run by the owner's daughter Jo (Taylor Renee Henderson), Gustavo and Bo take Sam there so they can all get to know each other. Steven Spurrier (Louis Pardo) is a British sommelier, book author, and expert, obsessed with wine. He arrives in Napa to taste the wines and confirm that American wines are really up to par with French wines. He's coordinating a blind taste test back at the old continent and is scouting for participants. While that unfolds, other happenings take place like father/son growing pains some of which, come with a cool dressing inside a boxing ring and wonderfully choreographed punches by Toranika Washington and Nathan Mendez's fight direction. There is also Gustavo, looking and finding what he is and meant to do as well as Sam, along with a product scare that had both characters and audience members gasping. 

I have not seen the movie and was advised not to see it. The musical is super engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed the balance between the young actors with the seasoned ones. Louis Pardo as the obsessed and curious sommelier is enchanting. He is portrayed as "difficult" but his scenic work goes beyond the stereotype of a British man's humor and wins over the house, which contrasts interestingly with T.J Mannix's Jim, who truly is difficult, as he has been through a lot and the hits just keep coming. The rhythm goes by along with the storytelling and there is a true sync that is palpable like a good Beaujolais Nouveau. The portrayals overall of the company are stellar and very funny. The ensemble has its own flavor and meshes wonderfully. J. Scott Lapp's direction is calculated, precise, and clean. I would say that is the reason why the show flows so smoothly, and the actors look like they are enjoying their work, but also having a good time with each other.  I was at an industry night, and that might have influenced the atmosphere a bit, maybe. Janet Pitcher's seventies flare, corduroy centric, halter top, bell bottom, costume design is bright and combines with both the set and the lighting bringing an amazing visual for the story.

Patrick Ortiz. Photo Karli Cadel

As with most debuting musicals, the songs need a tweak mostly on the lyrics, but the interpretations are so good that you just flow along with the next one and so on. Taylor Peckham's orchestrations are very pop sounding and fit nicely, rounding it out with Jon Fredette's sound design that was crisp and clear which is hard to land sometimes when debuting a musical piece. It is well known that theatre companies are struggling, and having live music is challenging so, bravo to CCAE for keeping it up and having a fantastic band play under the musical direction of Vadim Feichtner and Taylor Peckham as the conductor, who also played the keyboard and accordion. Other band members include Jack Majdecki on guitar 1, PJ Bovee on guitar 2, Brian Dall on drums, Michael Pearce on bass, and Danny Chavarin in percussions. 

Emma Degerstedt's voice is beautiful, nicely managed, and portrayed. her character Sam's songs like Summer in a Bottle, and The Journey of You, are definitely catchy. Will Riddle as Bo, gives tenderness and mean hairography, he can truly "whip" it. He also has a fast and calculated rhythm that moves all around the stage which keeps the engagement going. It is great to see Taylor Renee Henderson in another production. Her role as Jo is short but commanding, imprinting her style and lovely voice that harmonized marvelously with Degerstedt's, especially in the song It Takes a lot of Beer (To Make Good Wine). 

With the song In the Blood, Gustavo introduces his story to the audience, about how grateful and proud he is. There is a brief Flamenco sequence during the song that is confusing as per a conversation Gustavo is having with Sam, he says he is Chicano. In American pieces that portray Latin American cultures, especially Mexican, it gets poorly mixed/confused with the Spanish one. Yes, Spain conquered more than half of the American continent along with the Philipines, but it is not the same. Be warned dear reader, that if you are familiar with my reviews, you know my peeves reside on the portrayal of Latin American people (especially Mexican) on the American theatre stages, as well as pronunciation. Gustavo's brief lines in Spanish were good but the Spanish in the song was not as good. Obviously, this is not necessarily on Patrick Ortiz who did a fabulous job and gave a brief peek at what an amazing dancer he is too. This is a book/direction matter -call me picky- but just as productions are including intimacy directors more and more, there should be the same care and presence of dialect/accent coaches too. Yes, there are a couple of words in French here and there as well. Those were not bad. 

The Company of Bottle Shock! Photo Karli Cadel

Jo Winiarksi's scenic design of mainly, the Montelena winery with rotating platforms and a vineyard as the backdrop is just beautiful and resolved very creatively, going hand in hand with  Zach Blane's lighting, which brings the sun at different hours of the day. A particular detail when going wine tasting and getting those Instagram pictures, the sun is key and Blane nailed it. 

Bottle Shock! is a nice and enjoyable night out that offers a fully immersive experience with wine tasting onstage! We need to continue supporting live theatre with productions that are 100% live with music and all the moving pieces it takes to produce a musical. Credit where credit is due, CCAE is a risk taker and those risks have proven to be worth it. 

The musical closes this Sunday, July 23 but there are still a number of opportunities to catch it, matinees included! and another wise choice. 

If you are interested in the wine-tasting experience, before every performance:

Option #1 - Pre-show wine-tasting flight with a local winery ($20) for 4 tastings (2 red & 2 white). Tastings will be held in a cordoned-off section of the lobby with wine poured by local winemakers. Purchase a full glass of your favorite wine or join their wine club*

Option #2 - On Stage VIP Tasting with Chateau Montelena & Gustavo Wines ($100) for 4 tastings (1 red & 1 white from Chateau Montelena and 1 red & 1 white from Gustavo Wines). Our VIP’s will be led onstage to our very own “barrel room” starting 30 minutes before the show where our VIP wine experience will allow our patrons to taste wines from the award-winning Chateau Montelena & Gustavo Winery! You may even get to brush elbows with a Sommelier! *

Between each Saturday matinee and Saturday evening (7/22):

Option #3 - Escondido’s own “Judgement of Paris” Blind taste test with a Wine Professional ($50) 

Patrons will gather in the Lyric Courtyard at 4:30 pm (between the matinee and evening performances of Bottle Shock! The Musical) and enjoy a blind taste test of 4 Parisian wines against 4 Northern California wines and keep their own scorecard. A wine professional will lead this experience with insider knowledge and interesting facts about the wines being tasted. *

*This is an add-on experience. All attendees must also have a ticket to the Bottle Shock! The Musical*. For ticket prices and performance times please click HERE



No comments:

Post a Comment