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For the Record: Coen Bros.

L.A.’s best theatrical experience—Show at Barre’s For the Record series—continues its rotation of cabaret-style shows with the return of one of its most popular: For the Record: Coen Bros. Taking songs from the film’s soundtracks and rearranging them into a phenomenal interactive concert experience is just one of the many pleasures of this innovative series.

Featuring songs from films such as O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, the Coen Bros. would seem at first to be an odd choice for a concert event. But interestingly enough, the music the directors chose for their films perfectly captures the essence of the film itself. What the For the Record casts do with those songs, however, is the real surprise.

Opening with songs from O Brother starts the night off with a rousing good time with the entire cast contributing to various numbers as well as three of the guys taking on the roles made famous by George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. Likewise, the gals of the cast collaborated on a head-nodding version of “Don’t Leave Nobody But the Baby.” But it’s the more interesting change-ups that brought the biggest surprises. “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’” made famous by Nancy Sinatra, here, is given a rousing male version by Jason Paige. In the same vein, hearing Danielle Truitt sing a slightly bluesy and powerful take on “Danny Boy” from the film Miller’s Crossing is to hear the song for the first time.

As usual, every performer in the show exhibits a wow factor that needs to be witnessed. With most of the 12 members of the rotating cast being Broadway veterans, there really isn’t a better group of singer/actors in L.A. This is truly the best ensemble you will see in any Los Angeles show and to be able to behold such talent on a weekly basis is L.A.’s gift to music and film lovers anywhere.

And here’s the thing—you don’t need to know the films of the Coen Bros. to enjoy this show. I had only seen four of the nine films showcased. But that doesn’t matter.  The scenes the cast acts out in between numbers are still hilarious and the arrangements of the songs (by co-creator Christopher Bratten) are just as awesome and surprising as the performers. Having recently taken their “Tarantino” installment to SXSW—playing an expanded version in a 2,500-seat theatre—it is quite possible this show will be headed to bigger and broader places in the near future. Broadway anyone? So if you want to say you saw it from the beginning, get your butt to Show at Barre pronto. It’s already an enormously popular series, and it’s a definite must-see for the gay community who a) have a particular love of musical theater, and b) who appreciate awesome vocal talent—and let’s face it—a freakin’ gorgeous cast. Even a 100 percent gay man like myself has about four crushes on the show’s female performers.

While the rotating cast might give you a different (but always amazing) experience, the opening night cast was phenomenal as usual. When you hear the stunning Jackie Seiden sing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” from True Grit you will fall in love. Ginifer King’s sassy takes on songs like “Tammy” from The Big Lebowski will make you an instant fan. And Milena Govich is just a constant surprise you can’t help but eagerly await what number she has next. And I’ll say it again: Truitt’s “Danny Boy.” It got a standing ovation. Just sayin.

As for the guys—again—all spectacular. Handsome Steve Mazurek charms his way through a number of songs with a silky and seductive voice. Mischievous Jason Paige belts out his numbers in a gorgeously raspy tone that knocks you out with its power. And Anderson Davis wows with not only his numerous and varied characterizations, but his many vocal acrobatics. And any time Rogelio Douglas Jr. takes the stage the energy in the room goes up about a thousand percent.

If you haven’t yet seen any of the installments of For the Record, I urge you to quickly get a seat. You will have one of the most entertaining nights you’ve had in a long time and trust me when I tell you, you will be back: not only for future installments (the next of which is a show based on the songs used by director Paul Thomas Anderson), but by bringing all of your friends so you can share the experience again and again.  It’s really that good.

For The Record: Coen Brothers
runs through Sunday, April 29. Weekly performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. For ticket information, please call (323) 661-6163 ext. 20 or visit fortherecordlive.com

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