Theater Reviews: For the Record: Tarantino, Classic Couples Counseling, A Steady Rain

Photo by Rony Alwin

For the Record: Tarantino

DBA | 7969 Santa Monica Blvd., WeHo
Through May 17 |

For the Record: Tarantino is back, and it’s more badass than ever! The long-running series has found a new home at DBA, right in the heart of West Hollywood. For those unacquainted, For the Record takes the songs of a film director’s soundtrack and—with a rotating cast of 23 breathtaking performers—uses them to put on a cabaret-style show like no other. As the cast moves around the venue, singing on tables, re-enacting scenes on the center stage and popping up in every nook and cranny, the show becomes a truly immersive experience. And with the new location offering a more open seating plan, expert lighting and sound and room for the actors to breathe, For the Record: Tarantino is ready to blow the roof off West Hollywood.

With a cast that includes a number of Broadway veterans, you won’t find a better group of vocalists and committed performers on the West Coast. On opening night a confident Rumer Willis took center stage as The Bride from Kill Bill and proved she is a force to be reckoned with. While the rest of the cast is perfection, the standout number of the night was Danielle Truitt’s roof-raising version of “Satisfied Mind” that brought the audience to its feet.

As an added bonus, you never know who you'll see! Opening night saw proud mom Demi Moore cheering on daughter Rumer, and the next night saw Quentin Tarantino himself (with Demi back for round two) enjoying the show!

This is the show to see in Los Angeles, and the continuing success of its cast and creators is well-deserved. Bravo. —Kevin P. Taft

Photo by Dina Marrone

Classic Couples Counseling
Secret Rose Theatre |11246 Magnolia Blvd., NoHo
Through April 27 |
* *

The Bard meets Dr. Ruth in Lloyd J. Schwartz’s zany comedy, directed by Ted Lange. “Doctor, heal thyself” would be sage advice for Patricia (Constance Mellors), a neurotic modern-day shrink who, through some apparent time-warp, provides counseling for famous romantic couples of Shakespeare’s classics.

Patricia holds sessions with each couple before overseeing a group meeting. The couples at odds include Hamlet and Ophelia, Romeo and Juliet, the mixed-marriage Othello and Desdemona, Petruchio and his untamed shrew Kate, plus the murderous Macbeth and his wicked Lady.

Schwartz’ far-fetched conceit is good for some rib-tickling comparisons between 21st century sexual issues and attitudes of centuries gone by, and the performances are generally solid. Unfortunately, the repetitive gags wear out their welcome in this sitcom-thin concoction, which inexplicably drags on past the two-and-a-half-hour mark. —Les Spindle

A Steady Rain
Odyssey Theatre | 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A.
Through April 20 |
* * * *

Previously presented on Broadway in 2009, starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, Keith Huff’s hard-hitting drama A Steady Rain packs the testosterone-charged punch of a David Mamet play, coupled with a surprisingly tender portrait of a complex male friendship.

Huff spins the story of two Chicago cops who find themselves entangled in a web of escalating violence and impending tragedy. Director Jeff Perry elicits characterizations that are sometimes repellent yet paradoxically empathetic. Sal Viscuso plays Denny—a racist, self-destructive, married cop—and Thomas Vincent Kelly his alcoholic lifelong pal, Joey. Denny’s extramarital dalliance with a hooker leads to harrowing showdowns with some local criminals and a betrayal of trust by Joey.

Huff’s intimate two-hander alternates piercing monologues with gripping scenes between two characters headed for inevitable calamity. Viscuso and Kelly offer bravura performances, and the design elements are first-rate. Perry’s staging is resonant and powerful. —L.S.

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