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BWW Reviews: World Premiere WILD SONGS AND NAKED SOULS Shares Literary Musings on the Obsession Called Love

In this day of instant communication, how do you feel when the person you love does not answer a text or email within an hour? Makes you wonder what that person is up to and with whom, doesn't it? So image how was it in the days when the only way to reach a loved one was by sending a letter, and then having to wait for weeks or months for a response. Certainly the most outrageous scenarios would play in your head as to what was really going on, but would any of it really be true? And the more you wondered, the more obsessed you would become for that return letter.

WILD SONGS AND NAKED SOULS features dramatic interpretations of classic musings on love and life from great writers and poets of the past few centuries. It's an evening of romance and fun, and despite the title, there's no nudity involved: only the emotions are naked here. Of course there is Chad Doreck who struts a fine figure in a towel as Adam, musing on the new creature who calls herself Eve - and doesn't know when to stop talking or eating. Sounds like a complaint many men have with their wives today! When it comes to love, seems some things never change.

Gloria Gifford directs the show which features a revolving cast of members of the GGC Players, with a total of 39 historical characters sharing letters, thoughts, songs and poems on the cause and effect of love in their lives. Each actor will touch your heart and warm your soul with the intensity of their feelings, whether their character expresses obsessive or true love. You will certainly feel love and desire as it overtakes each reader.

For instance, Jeffrey Casciano portrayed Napoleon, who was fuming at Josephine for not answering his last letter. I swear I jumped out of my seat when his anger erupted over what she could possibly be doing all day to not have time to write back to him to ease his uncertainty of her faithfulness. And if you are lucky enough to see the show on a Saturday night, Jeffrey will cut a fine figure as Adam in that towel with another actor taking on Napoleon.

The classic scene about unrequited love from Edmund Rostand's 1897 play "Cyrano de Bergerac" featured Bill Stevenson as Cyrano feeding lovesick musings to Billy Budinich as Christian so that he can seduce Roxanne (the always brilliant Lauren Plaxco). There is much humorous interaction between the two men, with Budinich certainly demonstrating physically exactly where his main interest in Roxanne is housed!

One character introduction went by too fast for me to be able to identify her, other than as "Goody." The youthful exuberance of love was showcased full force, a culmination of obsessive first love in all its cuteness and wonder. Haile D'Alan Tslani shared the proper way to eat a fig as written by DH Lawrence. Of course, the symbolism involved comparing the many facets of a fig to a woman's body, and Tslani infused the piece with his great sexual aura as he peeled away the fig's layers to reach its juicy center.

Other standouts included Kevin Ferris as Khalil Gibran, Sheila Tejada as Countess Sophie Tolstoy (special kudos to Chris Rivera on his lighting of the scene), Abigail Kochunas for showing me a side of Emma Goldman I would never have known existed, Keith Walker as Charles Kingsley kissing a lock of his wife's hair kept in his possession when apart from her (Genevieve Joy), and Cynthia San Luis as red kimono-clad Sei Shonagon sharing that success in love depends on the man knowing how to make his departure in the right way at the right time.

So is love a sin or a virtue, obsessive or real? Does it really matter? Just keep listening to the devil speaking to you in one ear and the angel in the other and go with the flow! For not ever experiencing it would certainly be the biggest regret of anyone's life.

WILD SONGS AND NAKED SOULS (an evening of music and poetic license). World Premiere engagement of a new revue directed by Gloria Gifford, featuring writings of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Napoleon Bonaparte, George Sand, Isadora Duncan, Lord Byron, Omar Khayyam, Sei Shonagon and Wanda Gag. Produced by Jamaica Moon Productions and The GGC Players, with music by John Scott and Gloria Gifford, set design by Jeffrey Casciano, and lighting design by Chris Rivera.

At T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Free parking in rear of theatre Opens Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:00pm, runs through Sunday, May 18. Show times: Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 7:30pm.

RESERVATIONS: (310) 366-5505.

Photo credit: Mathew Caine @ Studio Digitrope

The cast - from left, Kelly Musselwhite, Nancy Vivar, Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco, Sterling Cardon, Chad Doreck, Francis Lansang, Alex Miller, and Billy Budinich. Center: Jeffrey Casciano.

Lucy Walsh (l.), Samiyah Swann, Genevieve Joy, Tracy Ann-Marie Nelson, Cynthia San Luis, Kelly Musselwhite, Nancy Vivar, Nikki Rodriguez.

Kelly Musselwhite, Alex Miller

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