TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix at Diversionary Aims at Character Redemption

Currently Playing Until June 9th 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti 

Sophia Araujo-Johnson & Sara Porkalob - Photo by Talon Reed Cooper

I confess I have never seen the movie Thelma and Louise with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. I know the premise and the ending lol, but I have never given myself the opportunity to see the movie. Diversionary Theatre gave that story a revamp with the musical TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix, with book and lyrics by EllaRose Chary and music and lyrics by Brandon James Gwinn. The piece also won the 2021 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theatre Writing.

The show starts lively with The Band of T (Sophia Araujo-Johnson) and L (Sara Porkalob), made up of Steph LeHane as “Cubby” in the drums, Faith Carrion as “Henrietta” in different instruments, and one of the vocalists, Lyric Boothe as “Marie” in the guitar, and MG Green as “Blazer” in the bass, musically directed by E. Renée Gamez. After the song "Why do strong female characters always gotta die?", the story begins where the movie ended with a very Hollywood entrance by T and L in their blue Ford Thunderbird suspended above the Grand Canyon in a "westernie" setting with a garage door that frames the grand entrances and exits designed by Yi - Chien Lee who took all the space and made it work with sections for the band to move and perform as well as the actresses. After the initial shock, T and L embark on a new queer adventure together aiming to redefine their relationship and what that means and will look like in the future. The ping-pong dialogue turns multiple as the members of The Band question not necessarily the why but the how, along with examples and theories through different songs like Vagilantes episodes 1 through 3 and Podcast Jingle. This gets into T and L's heads until they take action to own and tell their story.

Lyric Boothe, MG Green, Faith Carrion, Steph LeHane, Sophia Araujo-Johnson-
Photo by Talon Reed Cooper
I loved this work's premise, idea, and intention as it offers a window to look back at those two characters and think. The intention is fun and funny but it also creates awareness. Sara Porkalob is vigorous as L showing the San Diego audience once again, her performative chops belting out cool strong notes throughout the show with songs like Stuck as well as Mid-Air with Sophia Araujo-Johnson in the role of T in her Diversionary debut, with beautiful harmonies and a soft, spunky delivery. 

The musical is a 90-minute, no intermission that goes by with lively character interactions, animations, and projections by Sierra and Leah Osterman, giving the performance totted up fun with moments that popped. There are added characters that will not be disclosed for the sake of no spoilers. All design is important but in this show, Annelise Salazar and Colby Freel's, lighting design was crucial due to the different interactions between The Band, T, and L, but also The Bands, interventions which needed their own moments outlined right with Chanel Mahoney's hot costume design that seemed to fit each cast member's personality along with that "Riot Grrrl" band flare (nip pasties and all). 

Lyric Boothe - Photo by Talon Reed Cooper
Steven Leffue's sound design is on point with the dialogues, the music, and the lyrics. But the opening night performance had a few mic fails where the audio would cut and get staticky. At times, the guitar and bass volume was lower and it sounded like the musicians were inside a drawer. That happens when the space is smaller for the sound intended. Sherri Eden Barber's direction gathers all the moving pieces that are stimulating and in certain scenes, tricky to follow, aiming to flow with rhythm and make sense of it all, having the histrionic personalities function both individually and as a whole because multiple triple threats are happening, along with a story and an audience reaction. Barber's blocking managed all of that well. However, the piece to me needs work on the timing and resolution. The songs work, and the band works but T and L need more punch because once it is all taken in, looking back, they are not as stern as they were portrayed to be... going back and forth between decisions, -which is human nature, yes-, but in this context, it gets confusing. Then they go back to the initial premise again and the show ends. Another thing that stood out to me was the musical director E. Renée Gamez who has no dialogue in the show. They are playing with The Band but with no spoken interaction in the story. With all the band members being so strong, funny, and imposing, it was weird and I would have wanted to see at least a giggle or mumble from Gamez. 

Recapping, I loved this work's premise, idea, and intention, believing that more umph written in for T and L as well as E. Renée Gamez, would benefit the story but mostly, the intention to really redeem these characters.

Go see for yourself and let us compare notes. Currently playing until June 9th. For more information on performance times and show dates please click HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment