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BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like It

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BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like It

You might want to brush up on your Shakespeare before you go see LOVE IN BLOOM, Santa Monica Playhouse's bawdy musical comedy tribute to Shakespeare's rogues and wenches, written and directed by the award-winning team of Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo, featuring an ensemble of six brilliantly talented members of the internationally acclaimed Actors' Repertory Theatre. After a successful run at the end of 2019, this original musical comedy tribute to The Bard has returned on Sundays at 6pm through March 1.

As is true with almost every one of The Bard's plays, magic and mayhem, fops and fairies, mistaken identity, romance and humor BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like Itabound in this tongue-firmly-in-cheek evening with elements of pantomime, Commedia dell'arte and conventions of classical theater woven together with DeCarlo and Rudie narrating the tale as the elvish mischief makers Orion and Talia.

While there are quotes and references from several of The Bard's creations, LOVE IN BLOOM takes its biggest story line from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with three sets of lovers dealing with mistaken identities due to cross-dressing, who eventually get lost in the woods in order for the fairies' spell to be cast so that all ends well and love rules the day.

BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like ItDeCarlo and Rudie, decked out in gloriously sublime fantasy costumes by Ashley Hayes, enter to provide background information about all the characters, introduce scene changes, and interact with all the characters while remaining invisible. And the two have definitely taken to heart perhaps one of The Bard's most often quoted observations about theatre when writing this play: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances, and each in (his or her) time plays many parts." BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like ItThe supporting ensemble, dressed in white from head to toe, don wigs and costume pieces to assume the many roles needed to tell the musical tale of -washy Prince Hamelot (Patrick Censoplano) who is looking for his one true love without much success. Two sisters, blonde Constance and brunette Cortina, get shipwrecked and separated (of course), with both deciding to don man's apparel in order to live independently in their new land until they can somehow be reunited. As the sisters, Tara Brown and Cynthia Zitter take on the personas of Onesto and Portico, thus confusing not only the men they meet but themselves in the process!

BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like ItAnd of course, there has to be a monster somewhere in this land. Zane Garcia splendidly brings the soul of Calaban to the stage in the persona of Calabasas, a tamer and sweeter, dog-like animal in heat searching for his mate. (That character's name was rather bittersweet on the evening I attended, as it was the same day Kobe Bryant and 8 others perished in a helicopter crash in that city.) And with the switch of a wig, Garcia becomes Mother Frisbe to add a bit of fun to the festivities that befits her name.

The two comic standouts in LOVE IN BLOOM are Rachel Galper as the appropriately named and exceedingly lusty Lady Merrymount (complete with bodacious curves-enhanced apron) and Graham Silbert as the rogue Frivolio (and Father Pyramid) BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like Itwho channels every rotund Shakespeare fool to a tee, especially when he does not speak but his impressive pantomime skills are enhanced by sound effects designed by The Attic Room. And when not portraying these characters, Galper and Silbert join the rest of the ensemble to personify rain, wind, and every other environmental element described by Prion and Talia in the telling of the tale of true love.

Background projections combined with creative lighting, often with spotlights, create the various fantasy locations on a bare bones set design. Kudos to designer James Cooper for intertwining all these elements to create a larger than life representation of Shakespeare's worlds in such a small theater. BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like ItAnd all the while, the ensemble is running around energetically, changing costume pieces in a matter of seconds, to keep the story moving along at a quick pace thanks to DeCarlo's extremely focused and brilliantly creative direction.

Along the way, 14 original songs are performed by various cast members to reflect the mood and desires of those involved, including "The Lovers' Lament" by Prince Hamalot and Constance, "Follow Me" by Talia and Cortina with the company, "Coincidence" by Onesto and Portico, "A Modest Proposal" by the entire company, and "For All the World" by Calabasas, Portico, Prince Hamalot and Onesto (the two cross-dressed and confused couples).

BWW Review: LOVE IN BLOOM Spoofs the Bard to Prove All's Well That Ends As You Like ItI do advice audiences to pay close attention to the British-infused dialogue, which passes by at a very quick pace, in order to follow along with all the details being given to forward the story. And with so much physical comedy, it's very easy to lose your attention to the amazing visuals being created moment-to-moment which enhance every single vignette as it unfolds.

LOVE IN BLOOM tickets are $35 and may be ordered in advance by calling 310-394-9779 x1 or online at https://SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com Available tickets are sold at the door. But I advise you to pre-order to be sure you get a seat as most performances sell out in advance. Performances take place at the Santa Monica Playhouse is at 1211 4th Street, just south of Wilshire, in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. There is a fee parking lot across the street from the theater, with street parking available in the area - but please read the parking restrictions carefully. By public transportation: take the Santa Monica Blue Bus or the LA Metro Rapid #720, exit 4th and Wilshire or take the Metro Expo Line west to the last stop. The theater is 4 blocks north on 4th Street.

Photo credit: George J Vennes III, technical director of the production


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From This Author Shari Barrett