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Hilarious Of Grapes and Nuts @ SeaGlass Theatre

Of Grapes and Nuts
written by Doug Armstrong, Keith Cooper, and Tom Willmorth
directed by Paul Stroili
SeaGlass Theatre @ the Victory Theatre's Little Vic Theatre, Burbank
through October 24

Fans of John Steinbeck will not want to miss this delightful parody of Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Lenny becomes an unwanted member of the Joad family, boss Curly is a lady and the Joads are as determined a family as ever to beat poverty in Oklahoma and find their little patch of green earth in sunny California. SeaGlass proves once again that they are a top-notch theatre company to be reckoned with, making the West coast premiere of Of Grapes and Nuts a wicked classic all by itself.

This sendup leaves no stone unturned. Respect? There's no place for it here. When Pa Joad said that he wanted to make it to California, the family takes that request seriously and wait until you see how they get his body over the border. If they must wear clothespins over their noses to dispel the aroma of a decaying grandma in the back seat of the truck, life marches on. Even when a dying Lenny asks for a glass of milk, will Ma Joad satisfy his last request? Well...this is a show about family and its needs. Although adult fare, it's grotesque humor on the clean, goofy side, so there must be some limitations, right? Only a few! All in the name of fun, irreverance runs rampant in this script and so be it! Let the laughs endure.

Actor Paul Stroili is a clown with a touch of class, so therefore makes just the right director for this kind of material. His cast is surefire great. Casey Kramer is dynamite as Ma Joad. With a look that might stop a clock, her delivery is priceless, and her Pretty Boy Floyd speech about being in prison and turning out 'mean mad' is drop dead hilarity. David Reynolds adds just the right flavor of simplicity as Lenny without ever crossing the line, whereas Kimberly Van Luin goes for broke as Curly, and the results are winning. With moppet, excessively curly pigtails in place, her boss woman is mean, yet needy. Her seduction of Lenny is a hoot! Another unforgettable Van Luin performance! Lauren McCormack does great double duty as Jim Casy/Pa Joad, and David Ghilardi and Jen Ray display comic versatility in several roles. Ray's shrewd waitress is a gem. Ian Vogt has perhaps the most difficult role as Tom Joad. Who can forget that "I'll be everywhere" speech made so memorable on film by Henry Fonda? Thanks to Stroili's keen sense, he plays it straight out, not going over the top, and it works.

The set design by David George is great, making indoor and outdoor locales completely believable in this tiny space.

This is a raucous, unbarred look at the American way and how we'll stop at nothing to make a buck at the expense of others. Ever make fun of others when their backs are turned? Ever make a hearty meal out of Penny Candy? Ever watch an all day Beverly Hillbillies marathon and end up relishing it? C'mon, you know you have, be honest! If the answer is yes to these three and other silly, silly questions, git yourself on over to the Victory Theatre Center and enjoy Of Grapes and Nuts! You all go, now, you hear? It's new in town, but already destined to be the next cult classic!

 



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From This Author Don Grigware