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BWW Reviews: HOLLYWOOD PARTY Turns Farce Into Fanciful Fluff That Fizzles

Just about everyone loves a great party, especially back in the Roaring Twenties with automobiles bringing a new sense of freedom, women of loose morals, and free-flowing booze. Multiple award-winning fashion designer to the stars, Octavio Carlin, is playwright, director and costume designer of his new world premiere comedy HOLLYWOOD PARTY now at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre. Carlin states in the program he has been eternally captured by Hollywood icons from Marilyn Monroe to Mae West, by their inherent glamour and how beautiful clothes worked on their bodies. I think he should just stick to designing costumes in the future as they are definitely his greatest skill as an artist - and the star in this production.

HOLLYWOOD PARTY takes place in Hollywood 1928. Aspiring actors and long-time friends, Alberto Samaniego (NiNO Alicea) and Rodrigo Altamirano (dashing Kelly Brighton) are invited (so they think) to a fabulous Hollywood party for the premiere of Fred Niblo's (Les Williams) latest movie, "The Mysterious Lady" staring Greta Garbo (Calli Ryals who also plays 6 other characters including Joan Crawford). At the party, Alberto and Rodrigo discover that two guests are there to murder a VIP Hollywood celebrity. While trying to unmask the culprits, they have to deal with lights, cameras, press, a parade of movie stars from Greta Garbo to Joan Crawford, jewel thieves, cross dressers and a snooping butler (Terrence Gene Taylor) who keeps suddenly appearing with armloads of the finest coats even though it is the middle of July. Max Hambleton certainly has fun strutting his machismo as matinee idols Ramon Novarro, William Haines and John Gilbert.

It sounds like a great premise. But the entire cast stumbles along at a pace that varies from way too slow to way too fast, making the story impossible to follow. And with each of the women playing several roles, I found it difficult to follow exactly which character was doing what to whom as the play progressed. By the time it was half over, I was totally lost. Perhaps if an intermission is added, the audience could talk among themselves to try and figure out exactly what is going on making the second half much easier to follow.

But the costumes are beautiful and the actors wear them well, making the anticipation increase as to what concoction Carlin might come up with for their next entrance, both the men who cross dress (especially Matthew Saylor as Captain Karl Von Raden) and the women who seem to get more outrageously dressed as the play progresses, most notably Christina Lemon whose wild green hat proves to be a real show-stopper.

Written, directed, and with costumes designed by Octavio Carlin, produced by Mike Abramson and Karin Hallen, runs September 13 - October 19 on Fridays at 8pm,
Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm.
Hudson Mainstage Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90038
Dress appropriately at the theater is usually very warm.
Tickets at or by calling (323) 960-4418
General Admission: $30
Students and Seniors with ID: $20

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From This Author Shari Barrett