Review: Stylistic SCARLETT FEVER Recounts the Mostly True Story of David O. Selznick's Search to Find his Unknown Star
In 1936, producer David O. Selznick began a 2-year search to find an unknown to play Scarlett O'Hara in his soon-to-be film masterpiece Gone with the Wind. At this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival, Kick Boom Theater Company is re-telling the (mostly true) story in its inaugural production of the innovative and totally entertaining SCARLETT FEVER, created and directed/choreographed by John Wuchte, with original music by John Wuchte and award-winning composer Michael Teoli which adds percussive accompaniment as a perfect complement to Wuchte's signature Tribal Acting style.
What is Tribal Acting? According to Wuchte, who says he developed the technique while creating theater in Washington Square Park in New York City, "Tribal Acting is a hybrid of Viewpoints and Suzuki that incorporates live percussion which provides a heartbeat for the actors while accentuating mood and propelling the action forward." And this production is all that and even more, a brilliantly entertaining re-telling of a legendary Hollywood tale, told in the town where it originally took place.
Performed by an ensemble of 8 actors who work together perfectly to create a dream-like atmosphere exploring this Hollywood legend, the story unfolds in 10 moments incorporating constant and incredibly entertaining stylized movement, gesture work, dance, chant, song, original text, several suitcases, and an enormous Scarlett dress (created by Aaron Francis and Linda Muggeridge), all performed to a riveting drum beat thanks to musicians Kent Jenkins, Gordon Wimpress, Shih-Wei Carrasco-Wu, and John Wuchte.
With only a bare stage, a few chairs and some vintage suitcases, the ensemble portrays the real-life figures of David O'Selznick (Max Udell), his brother Myron (Austin Gold), and Kay Brown (Olivia Cordell), who was integral in obtaining the rights to Gone with the Wind. The famed gossip columnists Hedda Hopper (Joshua Rivas, wearing one of her signature over-the-top hats) and Louella Parsons (Deja Bowen) also inhabit the story, recounting just how important their gossip columns were to the success of Hollywood projects.
Three totally talented, triple-threat performers (Cassi Schiano, Talia Goodman, and Sara Carpenter) portray the 3 young women doing their best to win the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara, best told as they try to impress Selznick during their musical trio, "What Do You See in Me?" I found myself singing this song as I left the theater, a sure sign to me this production is guaranteed to be given encore performances after Fringe closes.
And as if his choreography was not stupendously entertaining enough, accents the show with hand-held lights to create the moody atmosphere of this fascinating Hollywood legend. Color-coordinated costumes by Crystal Culp effectively separate the actors into their group roles.
You have just one more chance to see SCARLETT FEVER on Sunday, June 30 at 3:00pm at the Broadwater Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood 90038. Tickets are $12-$15 and may be ordered in advance at http://hff19.org/6017
John Wuchte is also leading one more Tribal Acting workshop during the Hollywood Fringe on Saturday, June 29 @ 4:30pm. More information at https://www.tribalacting.com/scarlettfever.html
Photography by Gregory Connor and Rich Clark
If you missed the original run of SCARLETT FEVER, consider attending its encore performance on Sunday, July 7 @ 10pm. Probably the best one hour show you will see this year. Tickets here: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6017