BWW Review: TAPPING MY WAY TO THE NUTHOUSE - AND BACK at The Lounge Theatre
TAPPING MY WAY TO THE NUTHOUSE - AND BACK
Lynne Jassem, a tiny, diminutive but feisty woman, tells and taps out the story of her life as a child performer, overly-smothered and pushed relentlessly by a stage-mom, who was once a Rockette, that led her into much turmoil in her following years. She re-enacts her childhood dance classes, portraying both herself as a scared little girl and all of the elders she comes in contact with, the first being her dance teacher, Charlie, who has a gruff voice while spouting commands at her to perform overtly, which upsets her greatly, crying, singing, tap dancing and shaking her way through "Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown," as her mother watches critically from the corner.
From the beginning she persevered through sheer will to please and appease everyone around her, and goes through a most interesting life that she portrays by tap dancing over to another part of the stage and becoming another character thus giving us glimpses of incidents that formed and impacted her life.
There is much she deals with and it is all played out with her narration, tap dancing and choreography and a heartfelt script to play, dance and sing out the story.
The other side of the coin is her joy in relating her young career in show business. At age 10 she was chosen to be on the Perry Como show, which was a TV variety show in the '50s.
It is a very unique journey through her life up til now, and she tells it with honesty, compassion and wit.
Without curtains, props or scenery she transitions scenes by doing traveling tap steps and walking riffs in between - and as we come to find out this is her survival mechanism. It is what helps her cope to be able to get to that next scene in her life. It's her blanket in the cold dead of night.
Her career continued, working professionally playing the Borscht Belt circuit and dinner theaters all over Queens. Many jobs followed but her physical and mental conditions gave her deep troubles along the way.
All the while she enacts what happened concurrently to give you a truer picture of what she mostly silently endured.
There are some eye-opening messages conveyed about the past's attitude on issues such as mental health, et al, how it is different nowadays, and the changes we still need to make.
Use of the screen above from time to time flashing pictures Lynne would explain from her life, the understated and organic lighting and wardrobe all help to blend this into an interesting evening.
She pays homage to her mom, in spite of their differences, and embraces her for all she was. The times were different then, which is why stories such as Lynne's need to keep being told.
She is around after the show and enjoys answering questions about her enthralling life.
The performance felt a bit rough around the edges, although very engaging and quite interesting, so I would just say some polishing overall would be helpful.
This is an L A Fringe Festival event, and you can catch two more performances at the Lounge Theatre (6201 Santa Monica Blvd. 90038) Sunday, June 16th at 2 PM and Saturday, June 22nd at 12 PM. Tickets are $20 and available at https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6099?tab=tickets
Photos courtesy of Matt Kamimura and Kelli Taylor Squires