Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Solid Acting and First-Class Production Values Elevate a Protracted AY, CARMELA!

AY, CARMELA!/written by José Sanchis Sinisterra/adapted by Nilo Cruz & Catalina Botello/music composed by Gustavo Dudamel/directed by Alberto Arvelo/Hudson Mainstage Theatre/thru December 13, 2015

The Stella Adler Theatre's west coast premiere of AY, CARMELA! boasts the great fortune to have the stellar contributions of renowned architect Frank Gehry (in his first foray into the Los Angeles theatre scene as set designer) and Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel as its score composer. Production values complementing these two (including Chris Moscatiello's sound and Jeremy Pivnick's lighting) have never been better at the Hudson Mainstage.

Not to be upstaged by the sublime Dudamel scoring (crystal-clear recordings of plaintive guitar strummings) or the minimalist, clean-lined Gehry set (including a stunning recreation of a Goya sketch on the proscenium arch); Eloísa Maturén & Alejandro Furth expertly inhabit their roles as vaudeville performers Carmela and Paulino in their 1938 command, well, actually, command-ed performance for the conquering Nationalist troops and their prisoners (due to be executed the following morning).

Not really a spoiler, as the reveal's within the first scene; AY, CARMELA! features the ghost of Carmela visiting Paulino in the empty Goya theater they last performed, interspersed with flashbacks of that final performance.

Furth's stage presence and acting artistry dominate this show-within-a-show making his Paulino an intriguing, very real, three-dimensional person with human flaws stuck in a very unfortunate, but empathetic situation. Bravo to Mr. Furth for holding on to the audience's attention during playwright José Sanchis Sinisterra's lengthy expositions for as long as he does.

Maturén's wonderful in her alternating coyness and feistiness, although her one-word answers in her initial scene with Furth frustrate. (Not either's fault.) Obviously a classically trained dancer, Maturén nails all her flamingo routines (choreographed by Siudy Garrido), as well as, all her other movements with precision.

Basically a two-hander, Tomás Decurgez efficiently serves as the Greek chorus of the Nationalists troops in this Alberto Arvelo-directed piece.

Echo Theater Company Presents THAT PERFECT PLACE Next Month Photo
The Echo Theater Company presents That Perfect Place, a beautiful imagining by writer/performer Brent Jennings of what his mentally challenged brother might have said, had he been able to speak.

The Fountain Theatre Extends THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Photo
Based on the nonfiction book named “Best of the Year” by the Huffington Post, this highly entertaining, very funny new play follows young intern Jim Fingal, whose first assignment at an elite New York magazine is to fact check an essay written by a highly celebrated and cantankerous author.

Photos: First Look At GIFTED At Loft Ensemble Photo
Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood has announced its next production, Gifted by Bob DeRosa. See photos from the production.

Michael-Leon Wooley, Israel Erron Ford & More Join MOSTLY MUSICALS: MAKE IT WORK Photo
On Thursday, March 23, join CMO (chief music officer) Gregory Nabours and the (mostly)musicals company for an evening of songs about work - the jobs you love, the jobs you hate, and the jobs you wish you had - at the Knitting Factory NoHo.

From This Author - Gil Kaan

      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)

Interview: Alli Miller-Fisher Is Most Definitely Not Clueless in CLUE-LESQUEInterview: Alli Miller-Fisher Is Most Definitely Not Clueless in CLUE-LESQUE
March 17, 2023

Cherry Poppins latest show Clue-lesque has taken up residence at Tranny Tramp Granny’s through April 26, 2023. This burlesque musical parody of the cult-favorite ‘80s Clue is powered by the cast of Lauren Avon, Heath Butler, E.K. Dagenfield, Kim Dalton, Shanera Denae’, Kristyn Evelyn, Everjohn Feliciano, Bianca Gisselle, Brin Hamblin, Emma Hunton, Carly Jibson, Janaya Mahealani Jones, Meredith Lim, Alli Miller-Fisher, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Camel Pugh, Cory Robison, Michael Shaw Fisher and Sarah Wines. The very busy performer/ director/ writer/ choreographer/ producer Alli managed to take a breather to answer a few of my queries.

Interview: April Stewart Sending LOVE LETTERS To Her Reunited FriendsInterview: April Stewart Sending LOVE LETTERS To Her Reunited Friends
March 11, 2023

A.R. Gurney’s classic Love Letters plays for one weekend at the Theatre 68 Arts Complex beginning March 31, 2023. Wendy-Marie Martin directs this two-hander with Courtney R. Hall and April Stewart.  The multitasking April managed to find some time between her voiceover gig, raising her daughter and volunteering for NAMI to answer a few of my queries.

Interview: Larry Eisenberg Directs Not ONLY A PLAY, But All That It EncompassesInterview: Larry Eisenberg Directs Not ONLY A PLAY, But All That It Encompasses
March 9, 2023

Up next for Theatre 40’s current season, Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play opening March 23, 2023. Larry Eisenberg directs the cast of Todd Andrew Ball, Peter Bussian, Fox Carney, Joe Clabby, Cheryl David, Mouchette van Helsdingen and Jeffrey Winner. Larry was most gracious in carving out time to give serious thoughts to answering my queries.

Interview: Rosie Narasaki Is UNRIVALED In Continuing Her Family TraditionInterview: Rosie Narasaki Is UNRIVALED In Continuing Her Family Tradition
March 7, 2023

Boston Court world premieres Rosie Narasaki’s Unrivaled beginning March 16, 2023. Boston Court Associate Artistic Director Margaret Shigeko Starbuck directs this co-production with Playwrights’ Arena featuring: David Huynh, Katie Kitani, Cindy Nguyen and Chelsea Yakura-Kurtz. Rosie was most gracious in answering a few of my queries.

Interview: Singer/Songwriter/Actor John-Michael Lyles Revels In His SECRET GARDENInterview: Singer/Songwriter/Actor John-Michael Lyles Revels In His SECRET GARDEN
February 27, 2023

The revival of the Tony Award-winning The Secret Garden - The Musical has just opened at the Ahmanson. Sierra Boggess heads the large cast directed and choreographed by Warren Caryle. I had the chance to chat with John-Michael Lyles who plays Dixon, a most pivotal influence on the central character Mary Lennox.